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Additional info for Conrad’s Charlie Marlow: A New Approach to “Heart of Darkness” and Lord Jim
Most of the time, however, his words are efforts “to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of his heart” (589).
He has had little reason to envision Kurtz as a great talker. The only relevant passages I can find are a few quotations of Kurtz’s elevated sentiments by the brickmaker and the manager and the manager’s complaint, which Marlow overhears, about the “pestiferous absurdity” of Kurtz’s talk during his stay at the Central Station (535). Perhaps Marlow wants to hear more of such talk, which has been about combining trade with humanizing and instructing. At this stage of his journey, Marlow’s sense of Kurtz’s ability to talk seems to have little foundation; and, this being the case, his explanation of the bitterness of his disappointment is confusing.
His outrage, horror, and scorn are affirmations of the values that seem to have collapsed in the face of temptation and greed. Despite the general demoralization, civilization still has a champion in Marlow. Marlow becomes interested in Kurtz because he has the impression that Kurtz is also a champion of civilization. The brickmaker tells him that Kurtz is “an emissary of pity, and science, and progress” (523) who has been sent to the Congo by “the gang of virtue,” those who believe in the company’s mission as an agent of progress.