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[The harlequin]: "‘You can't judge Mr. Kurtz as you would an ordinary man. No, no, no! Now - just to give you an idea - I don't mind telling you, he wanted to shoot me, too, one day - but I don't judge him.' 'Shoot you!' I cried 'What for?' 'Well, I had a small lot of ivory the chief of that village near my house gave me. You see I used to shoot game for them. Well, he wanted it, and wouldn't hear reason. He declared he would shoot me unless I gave him the ivory and then cleared out of the country, because he could do so, and had a fancy for it, and there was nothing on earth to prevent him killing whom he jolly well pleased. And it was true, too. I gave him the ivory. What did I care! But I didn't clear out. No, no. I couldn't leave him. I had to be careful, of course, till we got friendly again for a time.’" (3.4)
The harlequin has gone mad, sticking to Kurtz even though Kurtz threatened to kill him for ivory. The harlequin stays until Kurtz becomes friendly to him again. This, of course, suggests madness on the part of both the harlequin and Kurtz.
"He [Kurtz] hated all this, and somehow he couldn't get away. When I had a chance I begged him to try and leave while there was time; I offered to go back with him. And he would say yes, and then he would remain; go off on another ivory hunt; disappear for weeks; forget himself amongst these people - forget himself - you know. ‘Why! he’s mad,’ I said." (3.4)
Even though Kurtz "hates all this," he will not leave it willingly. Marlow finally recognizes his insanity.
"Kurtz – Kurtz – that means short in German – don't it? Well, the name was as true as everything else in his life - and death. He looked at least seven feet long." (3.9)
The meaning of the German word "kurtz" is denied in reality. Kurtz is not short but "at least seven feet long." This demonstrates the divorce between language and meaning here in the mad interior.