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"This clearly was not a case for fisticuffs, even apart from the very natural aversion I had to beat that Shadow - this wandering and tormented thing. 'You will be lost,' I said - 'utterly lost.' One gets sometimes such a flash of inspiration, you know." (3.28)
Kurtz is likened to a damned soul, a "Shadow" that is "wandering and tormented." Marlow warns that he will be "lost" if escapes into the wilderness. We can interpret this as his being lost physically, psychologically, and morally.
[Kurtz]: "'I was on the threshold of great things,' he pleaded, in a voice of longing, with a wistfulness of tone that made my blood run cold. 'And now for this stupid scoundrel –'" (3.29)
Kurtz thinks himself a force of good while he paints the manager, "this stupid scoundrel," as a force of evil who thwarts his glorious plans. Of course, the reality is much darker, with both sides depraved and steeped in evil.
"I steamed up a bit, then swung down stream, and two thousand eyes followed the evolutions of the splashing, thumping, fierce river-demon beating the water with its terrible tail and breathing black smoke into the air. In front of the first rank, along the river, three men, plastered with bright red earth from head to foot, strutted to and fro restlessly. When we came abreast again, they faced the river, stamped their feet, nodded their horned heads, swayed their scarlet bodies; they shook towards the fierce river-demon a bunch of black feathers, a mangy skin with a pendent tail - something that looked a dried gourd; they shouted periodically together strings of amazing words that resembled no sounds of human language; and the deep murmurs of the crowd, interrupted suddenly, were like the responses of some satanic litany." (3.30)
Now both groups – the white men and black men – are painted in hellish imagery. Marlow’s steamboat is described as a "fierce river-demon" while the native Africans waiting onshore are painted scarlet and shout in an unrecognizable language deemed a "satanic litany." Both sides, then, have committed evil acts.