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"I've seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! these were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove men - men, I tell you. But as I stood on this hillside, I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly. How insidious he could be, too, I was only to find out several months later and a thousand miles farther." (1.37)
Marlow describes the white men who have enslaved the Africans as devils, traditional figureheads of evil. This contrasts with all the good that these same men think they are doing for the native Africans.
"My purpose was to stroll into the shade for a moment; but no sooner within than it seemed to me I had stepped into the gloomy circle of some Inferno." (1.38)
The shade that initially seems like a cooling respite from the sun quickly turns hellish.
"Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees, leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair." (1.39)
The black Africans suffer at the hands of their callous white masters and seek comfort in the natural sanctuary of a grove.