Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness Charlie Marlow Quotes
"We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere as of an overheated catacomb; all along the formless coast bordered by dangerous surf, as if Nature herself had tried to ward off intruders; in and out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were rotting into mud, whose waters, thickened into slime, invaded the contorted mangroves, that seemed to writhe at us in the extremity of an impotent despair." (1.31)
Check out how Marlow personifies "Nature" as wanting to "ward off" intruders. From this perspective, the Interior of Africa almost sounds like a woman trying to protect herself.
"At last we opened a reach. A rocky cliff appeared, mounds of turned-up earth by the shore, houses on a hill, others with iron roofs, amongst a waste of excavations, or hanging to the declivity. A continuous noise of the rapids above hovered over this scene of inhabited devastation. A lot of people, mostly black and naked, moved about like ants. A jetty projected into the river. A blinding sunlight drowned all this at times in a sudden recrudescence of glare. 'There's your Company's station,' said the Swede, pointing to three wooden barrack-like structures on the rocky slope." (1.34)
We hope Marlow wasn't expecting much, because the Company station looks pretty pathetic: three wooden barrack-like structures. Nice. Do you think they have high-speed wireless?
"I came upon a boiler wallowing in the grass, then found a path leading up the hill. It turned aside for the boulders, and also for an undersized railway-truck lying there on its back with its wheels in the air. One was off. The thing looked as dead as the carcass of some animal. I came upon more pieces of decaying machinery, a stack of rusty rails. To the left a clump of trees made a shady spot, where dark things seemed to stir feebly." (1.35)
The creepiest part about all this nature is how it turns even manmade objects into extensions of itself, like the railway-truck resembling the carcass of some dead animal. Is Conrad suggesting that there really isn't much distinction between the natural world and the human world? Or that the natural world is more powerful?