Charlie Marlow a 32 year-old man who has "followed the sea." Marlow's story of his voyage up the Congo River constitutes almost all of Conrad's novel. He pilots the steamboat sent to relieve Kurtz and is shocked by what he sees the European traders have done to the natives.
Kurtz an ivory trader for the Company. Kurtz works out of the Inner Station and is remarkably effective at acquiring ivory. A well-educated European, he is described as a "universal genius" and begins his work in the Congo as part of a virtuous mission. However, while in the jungle, he sets himself up as a god to the natives. By the time Marlow reaches him, he is emaciated and dying.
The Manager Working out of the Central Station, the Manager oversees the Company's activities in the Congo. (He is based on a real person, Camille Delcommune.) The Manager is able to inspire uneasiness in others; Marlow later figures out that he was responsible for the wreck of his steamboat. The Manager fears that Kurtz is trying to steal his job.
The Accountant Also working out of the Central Station, the Accountant somehow manages to wear spotless clothes in the sweltering heat and complains about the groans of a dying man who is brought to his office for fear of being distracted and making clerical errors in the Company's books. He also confides to Marlow some of the Company's shady business practices.
The Brickmaker Although his name suggests the nature of his position, the Brickmaker does not make any bricks because of a shortage of materials. When Marlow meets the Brickmaker at the Central Station, Marlow suspects that he is "pumping" him for information about the Company's plans.
The Harlequin a Russian freelance trader who meets Kurtz in the jungle. He admires Kurtz immensely, telling Marlow, "This man has enlarged my mind."
Kurtz's Native Mistress Kurtz's native mistress. She is very protective of Kurtz and leads a chant on the bank of the river when Kurtz leaves the Inner Station. She dresses in bright colors.
The "Pilgrims" European agents at the Central Station waiting for a chance to be promoted to trading posts, so they can then earn percentages of the ivory they ship back.
The Helmsman a native crewman on Marlow's steamboat. He is killed by a spear during an attack on the boat.
The Doctor When in Brussels, Marlow is examined by the Doctor at the Company's headquarters. He is interested in the effects of the jungle (and the lack of restraint it offers its inhabitants) on European minds.
Marlow's Aunt Using her influence with the wife of a high Company official, she helps Marlow get his post as a steamboat pilot for the Company.
Kurtz's Intended a demure and mourning young woman; Marlow visits her after he returns to Europe and lies to her about her fiancée's last words. She is dressed in black.
The Narrator an unnamed man on board the Nellie who relates Marlow's story to the reader.