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Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness


by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness Good vs. Evil Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #37

"This devoted band called itself the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, and I believe they were sworn to secrecy. Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers: it was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage; there was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world. To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe." (1.72)

The Eldorado Exploring Expedition is a really neutral name for a really evil company. Their sole intention is to rob and rape the earth of its treasures for profit, and they don't even bother pretending to have a moral justification. At least they're honest?

Quote #38

"The other explained that it [the ivory] had come with a fleet of canoes in charge of an English half-caste clerk Kurtz had with him; that Kurtz had apparently intended to return himself, the station being by that time bare of goods and stores, but after coming three hundred miles, had suddenly decided to go back, which he started to do alone in a small dugout with four paddlers, leaving the half-caste to continue down the river with the ivory. The two fellows there seemed astounded at anybody attempting such a thing. They were at a loss for an adequate motive. As to me, I seemed to see Kurtz for the first time. It was a distinct glimpse: the dug-out, four paddling savages, and the lone white man turning his back suddenly on the headquarters, on relief, on thoughts of home—perhaps; setting his face towards the depths of the wilderness, towards his empty and desolate station. Perhaps he was just simply a fine fellow who stuck to his work for its own sake." (2.2)

Talk about moral ambiguity. On the one hand, you could see returning the interior as a positive sign of courage. On the other hand (of course there's another hand), you could see it as pure greed. Which is it?

Quote #39

"'We won't be free from unfair competition till one of these fellows is hanged for an example,' he said. 'Certainly,' grunted the other; 'get him hanged! Why not? Anything - anything can be done in this country.'" (2.2)

In an otherwise confusing book, this seems pretty straightforward: the manager and his uncle are evil, willing to kill a man just to get at Kurtz.

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