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Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness Charlie Marlow Quotes Page 18

Quote #52

"Let the fool gape and shudder - the man knows, and can look on without a wink. But he must at least be as much of a man as these on the shore. He must meet that truth with his own true stuff - with his own inborn strength. Principles won't do. Acquisitions, clothes, pretty rags - rags that would fly off at the first good shake. No; you want a deliberate belief." (2.8)

Weird. We usually think of principles as being pretty firm, but Marlow seems to think they're nothing more than "pretty rags." So, what's the difference between "principles" and "beliefs"?

Quote #53

"Their headman, a young, broad-chested black, severely draped in dark-blue fringed cloths, with fierce nostrils and his hair all done up artfully in oily ringlets, stood near me. 'Aha!' I said, just for good fellowship's sake. 'Catch 'im,' he snapped, with a bloodshot widening of his eyes and a flash of sharp teeth - 'catch 'im. Give 'im to us.' 'To you, eh?' I asked; 'what would you do with them?' 'Eat 'im!' he said curtly, and, leaning his elbow on the rail, looked out into the fog in a dignified and profoundly pensive attitude. I would no doubt have been properly horrified, had it not occurred to me that he and his chaps must be very hungry: that they must have been growing increasingly hungry for at least this month past." (2.14)

Marlow just can't help feeling sympathy for the native Africans, even though he knows that what they really want is to nosh on some tasty human flesh. Now that is fellow feeling.

Quote #54

[Marlow describing Kurtz's speech]: "The point was in his being a gifted creature, and that of all his gifts the one that stood out pre-eminently, that carried with it a sense of real presence, was his ability to talk, his words—the gift of expression, the bewildering, the illuminating, the most exalted and the most contemptible, the pulsating stream of light, or the deceitful flow from the heart of an impenetrable darkness." (2.24)

Language can be used for good or evil. Fair enough. We accept that Kurtz has a silver tongue, and he's been using it to manipulate everyone into thinking that he's a swell guy. Okay—so which side is Conrad on?

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