In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, there are many characters that make brief appearances, or never even utter a sentence. The character that I believe has the most influence compared with their actual time in the novel is "the gorgeous apparition of a woman" that appears for only a brief moment, but represents many of the stories central ideas (136). From Kurtz's corruption to the conflict between society and savagery, she is able to illustrate many ideas without doing anything more than walking.
This woman sets her self apart from the other natives at first by stepping from the mass of "dark human shapes" at the "gloomy border of the forest" (136). The woman represents a combination of savagery and civilization. Her role as a savage is indicated by a "flash of barbarous ornaments" while these same ornaments point her out as at least semi-civilized (136). The bronze ornaments and ornate cloths could have only been obtained through Kurtz so it points to him as a civilizing influence on her.
This is important because if he has an effect on her, she probably has one on him also. While the reader can only speculate as to why Kurtz obeys the desires of the woman, we know that Kurtz does ignore her whims occasionally (137).
Through the entire encounter she maintains an air of prideful superiority except for the brief pause in her "measured steps" when the "sorrowful land.....seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul" (137). She only appears very briefly, and we are never given a definite reason for her pride. The reader must decide whether she is prideful because of the items she has that are from a civilized society, or if...