For many years authors of literary works
have used their words to make a point. In a book that has difference characters
the characters themselves can often make a point for the author just by being
who they Henry James’ “Daisy Miller” and on James Conrad’s
“Heart Of Darkness” each have a character that on the surface appears
to be a bit of a minor player. However, once the reader takes off the topcoat
and examines the underpinnings of the story and the character he will see that
the character is much deeper than originally thought.
In Daisy Miller the character of
Giovanelli and in the heart of Darkness story the character of Harlequin are
both subject to scrutiny when taken on their own merit and removed from the
safety of the folds of the rest of their stories.
Each character manages to exemplify the
point of the story and the main characters personality.
In Heart of Darkness we have Harlequin.
Harlequin on the surface appears to be little more than a side bar player in
the story but when we take a closer look Harlequin magnifies and exemplifies
the entire premise that the book author was trying to convey. He provides Marl
owe with many aspects of information when he does what he does. He relates the
external activity of Kurtz(Conrad, 1999). This is a valuable resource because
it allows the reader to remain up to date on the happenings of Kurtz without
constantly having to see it from Kurtzs point of view. More importantly while
he is relaying the external stuff about Kurtz the end result is that he also
gives Marl owe insight as to the inner workings of Kurtz as well. We are
treated to an armchair shrinks ideas about the mind and thoughts of Kurtz and
what types of things drive him to react the way he does. It is a work of art on
the authors part in that it gives us a fresh perspective and allows us to draw
conclusions of our own(Conrad, 1999).
conceived as a clownish romantic, the harlequin is an ideal convert to Kurtz’s
doomed illusions. Aside from his narrative function of moving Marlowe closer to
the inner station, the young Russian may also serve as a bizarre embodiment of
the innocent adventurer who is willing to risk everything because he hasn’t the
smallest idea of the costs involved. Marlowe recognizes the flimsy character of
the harlequin when he describes him as wearing “pretty rags-rags that
would fly off at the first good shake.” By contrasting the
insubstantiality of the harlequin with the solid searching of Marlowe, we are
disabused of the notion that Marlowe is simply glamour-hungry (Magills 1999).
On the other hand the part of Giovanelli in
Daisy Miller is a sharp contrast to Harlequin. While Harlequin appeared to be a
romantic yet kind of goofy fun loving guy Giovanelli is smooth as silk. He too
is a romantic at heart but he is a lawyer and that means he is educated. This
already has Harlequin looking less polished by contrast and comparisons.
However, they do have one thing in common(James, 1988).
They both have tremendous insight as to the workings of human nature.
Giovanelli understands that Daisy is only acting the way she has been brought
up to act in her homeland of America and it has no bearing on the type of
person she is sexually. Harlequin understands Kurtz with equal clarity.
He sees Daisy because she is the most
beautiful girl he has ever been around though he knows no future can come of
the relationship (James, 1988). This is also the
situation with Kurtz however it is not on a love level that they mingle but the
end result is the same. No hope of a future friendship but for entirely
different reasons (Conrad, 1999).
Each story is a tale of love and
adventure. Each story is a tale of people understanding the inner workings of
others. However the two stories are set in different nations, different eras
and with different motivation. Harlequins and Giovanellis ability to
understand the protagonist evidence the similarities. However their educational
backgrounds, their ideas and beliefs and their purposes for being there are
James, Henry. Daisy Miller. (Penguin USA 1988)
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions
Magills Surveys. 1999