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"He [Kurtz] won't be forgotten. Whatever he was, he was not common. He had the power to charm or frighten rudimentary souls into an aggravated witch-dance in his honour; he could also fill the small souls of the pilgrims with bitter misgivings: he had one devoted friend at least, and he had conquered one soul in the world that was neither rudimentary nor tainted with self-seeking. No; I can't forget him, though I am not prepared to affirm the fellow was exactly worth the life we lost in getting to him." (2.29)
Marlow admires Kurtz's power, but he's not blindly attracted to it like the harlequin is. Why? Does he know that Kurtz is corrupt?
"Girl! What? Did I mention a girl? Oh, she's out of it - completely. They - the women, I mean - are out of it - should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse." (2.29)
At the first mention of the Intended, Marlow scoots back to his opinion of women as completely out of touch with reality. But their fantastic visions of world peace are so touching and beautiful that he does not want to disillusion them with the ugly truth, since they probably couldn't handle it.
"Where the pilgrims imagined it crawled to I don't know. To some place where they expected to get something. I bet! For me it crawled towards Kurtz—exclusively […]." (2.7)
This has quickly stopped being curiosity and become obsession: Marlow doesn't see the wilderness as his destination anymore, but just Kurtz. (Or are they really that different?)