Heart of Darkness

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The Brickmaker Character Analysis

The General Manager's most trusted agent. A sly, lazy, power-hungry fellow who despite his title seems to have never made a brick, the Brickmaker cares only about his own advancement and therefore sees Kurtz as a threat. He also thinks that Marlow and Kurtz are somehow allied within the company. Marlow describes the Brickmaker as a "papier-mâché Mephistopheles."

The Brickmaker Quotes in Heart of Darkness

The Heart of Darkness quotes below are all either spoken by The Brickmaker or refer to The Brickmaker. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Heart of Darkness published in 1990.
Part 1 Quotes
I let him run on, this papier-mache Mephistopheles, and it seemed to me that if I tried I could poke my fore-finger through him, and would find nothing inside but a little loose dirt, maybe.
Related Characters: Marlow (speaker), The Brickmaker
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Marlow reflects on the falseness of the Brickmaker, an agent who never in fact makes bricks but is more likely the spy of the General Manager. Here the Brickmaker tries to extract information from Marlow on Kurtz and on those who sent both of them to the Congo.

Whereas Marlow could certainly be intimidated by the Brickmaker, he finds him relatively easy to understand and defend against. The Brickmaker is a "Mephistopheles," another term for the devil, but also made out of “papier-mâché”: material mixed of pulp and adhesive and used to cover up structures or make hollow figures. Marlow reiterates the idea of vacancy when he adds how nothing would be inside him except “a little loose dirt.” So while the Brickmaker may be wicked, his wickedness is built on no inner fortitude or substance.

Imagery of hollowness will be repeated when Marlow confronts Kurtz, so this is a key preoccupation when Marlow deals with Europeans. In contrast, we might note the incomprehensible evil that Marlow attributes to the surrounding wilderness. Whereas both the colonials and the environment are deemed wicked, the first are hollow men, but the second is, in its mystery, both more threatening and more meaningful.

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The Brickmaker Character Timeline in Heart of Darkness

The timeline below shows where the character The Brickmaker appears in Heart of Darkness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Marlow follows the Brickmaker back to his quarters, which are much nicer than any but the General Manager's. As... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Brickmaker, whom Marlow now calls a "papier-mâché Mephistopheles," continues to speak about Kurtz, and asks Marlow... (full context)
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
...like "biting something rotten," Marlow pretends to have as much influence in Europe as the Brickmaker thinks he has in order to get the Brickmaker to speed up the arrival of... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Work Theme Icon
Marlow resumes his story. When the Brickmaker leaves, Marlow boards his broken steamship, which he has come to love after putting in... (full context)