Heart of Darkness Important Quotes with Page Numbers
Page numbers refer to the Signet Classics edition.
The quotes are described below each one.
"He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol."
A description of Marlow alluding to his enlightenment.
" 'We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere as of an overheated catacomb…' "
Marlow shows his disdain for Imperialism.
" 'Being hungry, you know, and kept on my feet too, I was getting savage.' "
Marlow speaking, foreshadowing of the effects of the jungle on a person.
" ' "He is an emissary of pity and science and progress, and devil knows what else." ' "
The manager describing Kurtz in terms of Imperialist ideals, which cleverly foreshadows Kurtz's dark nature.
" 'There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies—which is exactly what I hate and detest of the world—what I want to forget.' "
Marlow speaking, but he will be unable to forget his experience. Also, he chooses to lie to the Intended to save her.
" 'It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect.' "
Of the river environment, likening it again to a sentient force.
" 'The mind of a man is capable of anything—because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future.' "
Marlow philosophizing, providing the frame work for the reader to understand Kurtz's epiphany.
" 'Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his lusts.' "
Marlow describes the flaw that led to Kurtz's descent into darkness.
" 'But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. I had—for my sins, I suppose—to go through the ordeal of looking into it myself.' "
Marlow describes his ordeal with Kurtz.
" 'Droll thing life is—that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose.' "
Marlow speaking, giving the reader a glimpse of his sad understanding.
" 'True, he had made that last stride, he had stepped over the edge, while I had been permitted to draw back my hesitating foot.' "
Marlow contrasting his experience of the darkness with Kurtz's.
" 'I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but I had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces so full of stupid importance.' "
Marlow speaking, showing his similarities to Kurtz now that he has travelled to the heart of darkness.
" 'I saw him open his mouth wide—it gave him a weirdly voracious aspect, as though he had wanted to swallow all the air, all the earth, all the men before him.' "
" 'I had a vision of him on the stretcher, opening his mouth voraciously, as if to devour all the earth with all its mankind.' "
These last two passages (pp 130, 149) are about Kurtz and carry extra weight toward the novella's total meaning because of their repetition.