Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness Chapter 1 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"And outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion." (1.53)
Here, Marlow describes Nature as a gigantic living thing that puts up with man's trivial attempts to conquer it. It's so much bigger and more powerful than anything the humans have that it's "invincible" like absolute concepts of "evil or truth." But we have to ask: if part of Heart of Darkness is specifically about how concepts like "evil" and "truth" aren't so obvious, what is Conrad saying about the wilderness?
"One evening a grass shed full of calico, cotton prints, beads, and I don't know what else, burst into a blaze so suddenly that you would have thought the earth had opened to let an avenging fire consume all that trash." (1.55)
We're guessing that the Company trades these cheap Western goods—calico and cotton are inexpensive fabrics; beads are inexpensive decoration—for the African's ivory. Is it a fair trade? Nature doesn't seem to think so.
"[…] afterwards he arose and went out—and the wilderness without a sound took him into its bosom again." (1.56)
The black man blamed for the fire eventually abandons the Central Station and heads back into the wilderness. But does Nature protect him or kill him? "Took him into its bosom" isn't exactly clear.