Heart of Darkness Quotes

Quotes or quotations are significant phrases and sentences or lines that show the universality of the message of a literary work. Heart of Darkness quotations has gained important significance across the globe for their universality. Some of the famous quotes have been discussed below.

Quotes from Heart of Darkness

Quote #1

“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.”


The narrator, Charles Marlow speaks about the people who have traveled through the sea with the East India Company to the other side of the world. They claim to spread the word of civilization, but they are hunting gold. They also want to wage war against the religious customs of other people.

Quote #2

“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.”


Marlow, the spokesman of Conrad, speaks these words when he thinks about his past voyages during his conversation with the narrator. He tells him that it is not good to steal from people from other ethnicity and for having different complexions. He is referring to the black people of Africa. These lines show how the exploitations started in African and Asian countries.

Quote #3

“It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind — as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness.”


Marlow speaks these words telling about the native land plundering. He sees that all the people have come here to plunder resources. They kill the natives who resist them. This is happening on a grand scale, and it shows the dark side of human nature. Specifically, it shows the people who are greedy and resort to killings when people resist them. The reader will also notice that a person who becomes blind with greed and darkness fail to display kindness.

Quote #4

“You know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies — which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world — what I want to forget.”


Marlow says that he hates lying and does not tolerate it because lying shocks him. He also believes lying is like death. In fact, Marlow does not like death or mortality and wants to forget it.  He is referring to the lie of spreading knowledge in Africa in the disguise of colonization.

Quote #5

“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. . ..”

Section 1

Marlow speaks these words to his audience expressing his feelings about life and existence that cannot be explained. It is very difficult to pick up truths and interpret them according to the timeline. It also means that truth is relative to the time and compares it to a dream.

Quote #6

“Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.”

Section – II

Marlow speaks these words show his deep observation by seeing untouched nature. After they have left the river and come on the dry land, he thinks that it is like going to the time when the earth was created. The big trees covered the vegetation at that time and made it rotten. This feeling runs deep in his heart when they leave the river.

Quote #7

“The mind of man is capable of anything — because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future.”

Section – II

Marlow is speaking these words explaining that people’s mind can transform anything. It has great powers and contains knowledge about the past as well as the future. He is referring to the plunder that the Europeans have resorted to in Africa in the name of spreading civilization.

Quote #8

“I think the knowledge came to him at last — only at the very last. But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion.”

Section – III

In these sentences, Marlow narrates how Kurtz has learned about his nature at the last moment. He thinks that Kurtz was a foolish man until the very end. Marlow also adds that Kurtz lost his sense of civilization after seeing great treasure in Africa.

Quote #9

“His ascendancy was extraordinary. The camps of these people surrounded the place, and the chiefs came every day to see him. They would crawl…. ‘I don’t want to know anything of the ceremonies used when approaching Mr. Kurtz,’ I shouted.”

Section – III

When an admirer of Mr. Kurtz, a young man, tells that Kurtz has extraordinary powers to ascend to a higher position because the chiefs of the tribe used to pay respects to him. They were ready to do anything he wanted. However, Marlow shouts at him the ceremonies performed by Kurtz were barbaric as had fallen to the unethical tribal ways of the African Congo.

Quote #10

“He informed me, lowering his voice, that it was Kurtz who had ordered the attack to be made on the steamer. ‘He hated sometimes the idea of being taken away – and then again…But I don’t understand these matters.”

Section – III

Kurtz is on his death bed. The manager is telling Marlow that there was going to be an attack on their steamer which was arranged by Kurtz before he fell. Adding further, he says that sometimes Kurtz is used to doing these horrible things to retain his power over the locals as well as people around him.