Heart of Darkness
How we cite our quotes:
"I am sorry to own I began to worry them. This was already a fresh departure for me. I was not used to get things that way, you know. I always went my own road and on my own legs where I had a mind to go. I wouldn't have believed it of myself; but, then—you see—I felt somehow I must get there by hook or by crook. So I worried them. The men said 'My dear fellow,' and did nothing. Then—would you believe it?—I tried the women. I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work—to get a job. Heavens! Well, you see, the notion drove me. I had an aunt, a dear enthusiastic soul. She wrote: 'It will be delightful. I am ready to do anything, anything for you. It is a glorious idea. I know the wife of a very high personage in the Administration, and also a man who has lots of influence with,' etc. She was determined to make no end of fuss to get me appointed skipper of a river steamboat, if such was my fancy." (1.20)
It helps to have friends in high places. Marlow knows that power can be useful—and we even suspect that he'd like to have a little bit of it himself. (But not too much. Not so much that it makes him go crazy, you know.)
"I got my appointment—of course; and I got it very quick. It appears the Company had received news that one of their captains had been killed in a scuffle with the natives. This was my chance, and it made me the more anxious to go […] through this glorious affair I got my appointment, before I had fairly begun to hope for it." (1.21)
Woohoo! Untimely death = promotion for our intrepid hero. Check out the way he says that his predecessor died in a "glorious affair"—sure, he's being ironic, but he's not exactly mourning the guy. In fact, he seems downright pleased.
"I had no difficulty in finding the Company's offices. It was the biggest thing in the town, and everybody I met was full of it. They were going to run an over-sea empire, and make no end of coin by trade." (1.22)
Let's see: building an overseas empire on the backs of oppressed native Africans, and making a giant profit by exploiting the African Interior. There's no way this can end badly, right?