Study Guide

Charles Gould in Nostromo

By Joseph Conrad

Charles Gould

Charles Gould is from an English family but was born in Costaguana. Charles is kind of a BFD (big fat deal) in Sulaco. As a young man, he took over the mine that had belonged to his father and turned it around from a non-productive liability into a massive, successful money-machine.

And his goal wasn't just to get wealthy himself; he had also hoped that the presence of a booming industry would help bring peace and stability to his place of birth, which had a long history of war. Unfortunately, those dreams don't exactly come true, and his political maneuverings end up touching off a big kerfuffle between people loyal to President/Dictator Don Vincente Ribiera (whom Gould helped to bring to power) and revolutionary forces led by General Montero. Oops. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right?

Reserved and cold, Gould doesn't seem like a terribly bad guy, but he's so obsessed with the mine and the silver that he neglects his wife and seems oblivious to anything in life that isn't related to his economic or political interests.

As Martin notes when reflecting on the Goulds and their priorities:

"A passion has crept into his cold and idealistic life. A passion which I can only comprehend intellectually. A passion that is not like the passions we know, we men of another blood. But it is as dangerous as any of ours." (II.7.71)

It's one of the tragedies of the book that his good intentions end up like that. His silver-fever takes over all facets of his life, leading him to become even more of a cold-blooded lizard-like dude than he already was, and (more importantly, at least as far as our reading pleasure is concerned) setting the stage for the drama of this novel.