Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness Madness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[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)
It looks like the harlequin has gone a little crazy, too, sticking to Kurtz even though Kurtz threatened to kill him for ivory. Don't know about you, but we prefer our friends not to be homicidal maniacs.
"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 won't leave it willingly. And that, somehow, is the final clue that Marlow needs to decide that Kurtz is totally crazy. (Really, Marlow? We got there a lot faster than you.)
"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)
As true as everything else, which means … complete false. One of the biggest signs of madness in Heart of Darkness is the way that language and meaning don't match up at all—in fact, they're so at odds that we end up with no meaning at all.