Marlow meets the Company’s General Manager upon his arrival at the Central Station, and together they sail toward Kurtz and the Inner Station. Ironically, the most notable aspect of the Manager’s character is just how average and unremarkable he is. Marlow’s first impression of him includes a description with words such as “commonplace,” “middle size,” “ordinary,” and “usual,” and this continued emphasis on his ordinariness distinguishes him from Kurtz who, by all accounts, is anything but average. The tension between the Manager and Kurtz in terms of their personalities appears in their relationship as well: a persistent dislike and distrust underlies their struggle for power within the Company. Marlow quickly observes that the Manager feels threatened by Kurtz and even seems to look forward to his demise, offering his signature, subtle smile as soon as he suspects his enemy’s death. Meanwhile, Kurtz asks Marlow to keep his personal papers out of the Manager’s meddlesome hands. The combination of these behaviors seems to imply that the Manager is always scheming or looking for ways to manipulate situations in favor of himself. While he is not power hungry in the same way that the Brickmaker is, the Manager clearly prioritizes his self-interest over everything and everyone else. 

Two other significant aspects of the Manager’s character include his abilities to evoke an indescribable sense of uneasiness in others and to never fall ill, both of which have broader connections to Conrad’s critiques of imperialism. As a representation of the Company as a whole, the Manager’s ominous smile and unsettling presence suggest that both he and his organization use shady tactics to achieve their goals. The fact that he never gets sick, something he attributes to “hav[ing] no entrails,” furthers Conrad’s critique by alluding to his moral bankruptcy. Marlow notes the Manager’s emptiness on multiple occasions, and these references imply that only those who are completely void of ethics can sustain such a dark and manipulative way of life. This characterization of the Manager ultimately gives Conrad yet another opportunity to emphasize the inherent maliciousness of Europe’s colonial missions.