Heart of Darkness Quotes

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Heart of Darkness Quotes

Quote 1: "The old river in its broad reach rested unruffled at the decline of day, after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks, spread out in the tranquil dignity of a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth... Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth!...The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealth, the germs of empires." Part 1, pg. 2

Quote 2: "'And this also,' said Marlow suddenly, 'has been one of the dark places of the earth.'" Part 1, pg. 3

Quote 3: "...In some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him--all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There's no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is detestable. And it has a fascination, too, which goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination--you know. Imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate." Part 1, pg. 4

Quote 4: "The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much." Part 1, pg. 4

Quote 5: "Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of Darkness, knitting black wool as for a warm pall, one introducing, introducing continuously to the unknown, the other scrutinizing the cheery and foolish faces with unconcerned old eyes. Ave! Old knitter of black wool. Morituri te salutant. Not many of those she looked at ever saw her again--not half, by a long way." Part 1, pg. 8

Quote 6: "She talked about 'weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways,' till, upon my word, she made me quite uncomfortable. I ventured to hint that the Company was run for profit." Part 1, pg. 9

Quote 7: "...Nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of native--he called them enemies!--hidden out of sight somewhere." Part 1, pg. 11

Quote 8: "In and out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were rotting into mud, whose waters, thickened with slime, invaded the contorted mangroves, that seemed to writhe at us in the extremity of an impotent despair. Nowhere did we stop long enough to get a particularlised impression, but the general sense of vague and oppressive wonder grew upon me. It was like a weary pilgrimage amongst hints for nightmares." Part 1, pg. 11

Quote 9: "'When one has got to make correct entries, one comes to hate those savages--hate them to the death.'" Part 1, pg. 15

Quote 10: "I couldn't help asking him once what he meant by coming here at all. 'To make money, of course. What do you think?' he said scornfully." Part 1, pg. 16

Quote 11: "Do you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems I am trying to tell you a dream--making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is the very essence of dreams...no, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream--alone..." Part 1, pg. 23

Quote 12: "'Is he alone there?' 'Yes,' answered the manager, 'he sent his assistant down the river with a note to me in these terms: 'Clear this poor devil out of the country, and don't bother sending me more of that sort. I had rather be alone than have the kind of men you can dispose of with me.' That was more than a year ago. Can you imagine such impudence?' 'Anything since then?' asked the other hoarsely. 'Ivory,' jerked the nephew, 'lots of it--prime sort--most annoying, from him.'" Part 2, pg. 27

Quote 13: "It was a distinct glimpse: the dugout, four paddling savages, and the lone white man turning his back suddenly on the headquarters, on relief, on thoughts of home--perhaps; setting his face towards the depth of the wilderness, towards his empty and desolate station." Part 2, pg. 27

Quote 14: "The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness." Part 2, pg. 30

Quote 15: "Everything belonged to him--but that was a trifle. The thing to know was what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. That was the reflection that made you creepy all over. It was impossible--not good for one either--trying to imagine. He had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land--I mean literally. You can't understand--how could you?" Part 2, pg. 43

Quote 16: "It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!'" Part 2, pg. 44

Quote 17: "'I tell you,' he cried, 'this man has enlarged my mind.'" Part 2, pg. 48

Quote 18: "'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.'" Part 3, pg. 50

Quote 19: "...Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts [...] there was something wanting in him--some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence. Whether he knew of this deficiency himself I can't say. I think the knowledge came to him at last--only at the very last. But the wilderness found him out early, and had taken 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..." Part 3, pg. 51

Quote 20: "I turned to the wilderness really, not to Mr. Kurtz, who, I was ready to admit, was as good as buried. And for a moment it seemed to me as if I also was buried in a vast grave full of unspeakable secrets. I felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, the darkness of an impenetrable night..." Part 3, pg. 55

Quote 21: "I did not betray Mr. Kurtz--it was ordered I should never betray him--it was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice. I was anxious to deal with this shadow by myself alone--and to this day I don't know why I was so jealous of sharing with anyone the peculiar blackness of that experience." Part 3, pg. 57

Quote 22: "I tried to break the spell--the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness--that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations." Part 3, pg. 59

Quote 23: "They had behind them, to my mind, the terrific suggestiveness of words heard in dreams, of phrases spoken in nightmares." Part 3, pg. 59

Quote 24: "'The horror! The horror!'" Part 3, pg. 62

Quote 25: "Never see him! I saw him clearly then. I shall see this eloquent phantom as long as I live, and I shall see her too, a tragic and familiar shade, resembling in this gesture another one, tragic also, and bedecked with powerless charms, stretching bare brown arms over the glitter of the infernal stream, the stream of darkness." Part 3, pg. 68

Quote 26: "I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky--seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness." Part 3, pg. 69

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