Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness Chapter 2 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"The original Kurtz had been educated partly in England, and - as he was good enough to say himself — his sympathies were in the right place. His mother was half-English, his father was half-French. All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz […]." (2.29)
The fact that "all Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz" and the subsequent fact that Kurtz went mad in the wilderness suggests that all of Europe contributes something to mankind that makes them susceptible to madness. Maybe something is wrong with the way Europe is conditioning and educating and raising its citizens. Or maybe everyone has the seeds of madness, and maybe the Africans would be just as bad in the same situation.
"There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!' The curious part was that he had apparently forgotten all about that valuable postscriptum, because, later on, when he in a sense came to himself, he repeatedly entreated me to take good care of 'my pamphlet'(he called it), as it was sure to have in the future a good influence upon his career." (2.29)
Here is one of the first signs of Kurtz's madness: the fact that the tone of his postscriptum differs so sharply from the rest of the manuscript. Kurtz isn't rational and idealistic anymore; he's desperate and deranged—so desperate and deranged that he apparently doesn't even remember it later, or doesn't think that it's, um, slightly problematic.
"You can't understand. How could you? - with solid pavement under your feet, surrounded by kind neighbours ready to cheer you or to fall on you, stepping delicately between the butcher and the policeman, in the holy terror of scandal and gallows and lunatic asylums - how can you imagine what particular region of the first ages a man's untrammelled feet may take him into by the way of solitude - utter solitude without a policeman - by the way of silence - utter silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbour can be heard whispering of public opinion? These little things make all the great difference. When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness…The earth for us is a place to live in, where we must put up with sights, with sounds, with smells, too, by Jove! - breathe dead hippo, so to speak, and not be contaminated." (2.29)
Marlow claims that his audience cannot understand his feeling of utter loneliness and the ensuing madness without being there. He describes how isolation from one's fellow man can mess with one's sense of reality, that without public opinion, one cannot judge the morality of one's actions.