Heart of Darkness
Identity Quotes Page 5
How we cite our quotes:
"Glamour urged him on, glamour kept him unscathed. He surely wanted nothing from the wilderness but space to breathe in and to push on through. His need was to exist, and to move onwards at the greatest possible risk, and with a maximum of privation. If the absolutely pure, uncalculating, unpractical spirit of adventure had ever ruled a human being, it ruled this bepatched youth. I almost envied him the possession of this modest and clear flame. It seemed to have consumed all thought of self so completely, that even while he was talking to you, you forgot that it was he—the man before your eyes—who had gone through these things." (3.1)
The harlequin is depicted as a shell of a man driven on only by "glamour" or the "pure…spirit of adventure."
"But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude—and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core […]." (3.5)
The evil wilderness drains Kurtz of his heart and his humanity, leaving him "hollow at the core." Brain snack: the idea that we're all "hollow" at the core and that there's no clear meaning is basically the major idea of early twentieth-century writing. T.S. Eliot wrote a whole poem about it.
"I was struck by the fire of his eyes and the composed languor of his expression. It was not so much the exhaustion of disease. He did not seem in pain. This shadow looked satiated and calm, as though for the moment it had had its fill of all the emotions." (3.10)
Kurtz isn't even a whole human any more: he's a "shadow." Pros: because he's no longer fully human, Kurtz doesn't feel the pain of his disease as his body wastes away; he seems calm in a wholly inhuman way. Cons: He's, um, not fully human.