The novel has a pessimistic outlook on life. Marlow constantly refers to darkness, madness, and fear. This is probably based on Conrad’s own negative reaction to his voyage up the Congo River. Conrad views all his characters cynically; not one of them is rendered in a completely favorable light. They all have major flaws that compromise their understanding of the profundity of the corruption under which they all work. However, the novel is not without its own brand of humor. Conrad enjoys poking fun at some of the more pretentious figures through the scathingly acerbic commentary of the perceptive Marlow. The humor is also interestingly commingled with the horror; death is treated casually, terrible scenes rendered with a literary flick of the wrist. To Marlow, it seems that this is the only way to deal with the horror.