© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness The Harlequin Quotes Page 1

Quote #1

[The harlequin]: "’She got in one day and kicked up a row about those miserable rags I picked up in the storeroom to mend my clothes with. I wasn't decent. At least it must have been that, for she talked like a fury to Kurtz for an hour, pointing at me now and then. I don't understand the dialect of this tribe.’" (3.17)

The harlequin does not understand the warrior woman’s speech. He assumes that she is talking about his clothing with no hard proof. She could very well have been blaming him for the coming of Marlow’s crew. Readers are as clueless about her tirade as the harlequin is. This is another example of language breaking down in the interior.

Quote #2

[The harlequin]: "'At first old Van Shuyten would tell me to go to the devil,' he narrated with keen enjoyment; 'but I stuck to him, and talked and talked, till at last he got afraid I would talk the hind-leg off his favourite dog, so he gave me some cheap things and a few guns, and told me he hoped he would never see my face again.’" (2.36)

The harlequin uses language to wear down the Dutchman’s patience. The Dutchman eventually gives in to the harlequin, providing him with some supplies to face the interior. Thus, the harlequin has found that his tongue opens doors for him.

Quote #3

[The harlequin]: "'So many accidents happen to a man going about alone, you know. Canoes get upset sometimes – and sometimes you've got to clear out so quick when the people get angry.'" (2.37)

The harlequin comments on the fickle nature of Fate in the interior. It gives men "many accidents," as if trying to kill those who dare venture into the interior.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement