Heart of Darkness

The fiancé of his Intended, and a man of great intellect, talent, and ambition who is warped by his time in the Congo. Kurtz is the embodiment of all that's noble about European civilization, from his talent in the arts to his ambitious goals of "civilizing" and helping the natives of Africa, and can be seen as a symbol of that civilization. But in his time in Africa Kurtz is transformed from a man of moral principles to a monster who makes himself a god among the natives, even going so far as to perform "terrible rites." His transformation proves that for all of his talent, ambition, and moral ideas, he was hollow at the core.

Kurtz Quotes in Heart of Darkness

The Heart of Darkness quotes below are all either spoken by Kurtz or refer to Kurtz. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Heart of Darkness published in 1990.
Part 1 Quotes
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.
Related Characters: Marlow (speaker), Kurtz
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

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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.
Related Characters: Marlow (speaker), Kurtz
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2 Quotes
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.
Related Characters: Marlow (speaker), Kurtz
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

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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!"
Related Characters: Marlow (speaker), Kurtz (speaker)
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

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"I tell you," he cried, "this man has enlarged my mind."
Related Characters: The Russian Trader (speaker), Kurtz
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 3 Quotes
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.
Related Characters: Marlow (speaker), Kurtz
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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"The horror! The horror!"
Related Characters: Kurtz (speaker)
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Mistah Kurtz—he dead."
Related Characters: The General Manager's servant (speaker), Kurtz
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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I was within a hair's-breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I found with humiliation that probably I would have nothing to say. This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. . . . He had summed up—he had judged. "The horror!" He was a remarkable man.
Related Characters: Marlow (speaker), Kurtz
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

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I heard a light sigh and then my heart stood still, stopped dead short by an exulting and terrible cry, by the cry of inconceivable triumph and of unspeakable pain. 'I knew it—I was sure!' . . . She knew. She was sure. I heard her weeping; she had hidden her face in her hands. It seemed to me that the house would collapse before I could escape, that the heavens would fall upon my head. But nothing happened. The heavens do not fall for such a trifle.
Related Characters: Marlow (speaker), Kurtz's Intended (speaker), Kurtz
Related Symbols: Women
Page Number: 71-72
Explanation and Analysis:

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Kurtz Character Timeline in Heart of Darkness

The timeline below shows where the character Kurtz appears in Heart of Darkness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Work Theme Icon
...day the Chief Accountant mentions that further up the river Marlow will probably meet Mr. Kurtz, a station head who sends in as much ivory as all the others put together... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
...to pilot has sunk. Apparently, the General Manager had suddenly decided to try to reach Kurtz at the Inner Station with an inexperienced pilot at the helm of the steamship. The... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
...Manager explains why he took the steamship onto the river before Marlow, its pilot, arrived: Kurtz, the Company's best agent, is sick. The General Manager takes special interest when Marlow mentions... (full context)
Part 3
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Meanwhile, the Russian begs Marlow to take Kurtz away quickly. He tells of his first meeting with Kurtz, in which Kurtz "talked of... (full context)
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Kurtz, the Russian says, is a god to the local tribesman, who adore him. They help... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
The Russian says that Kurtz can't be judged as other men are. He adds that Kurtz "suffered too much. He... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
The Russian mentions that when the native chiefs came to see Kurtz they crawled up to him. This information disgusts Marlow, who comments that in contrast "uncomplicated... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
The Russian can't understand Marlow's scorn at Kurtz's savage actions. He says that the Company abandoned Kurtz, who had such wonderful ideas. (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
The pilgrims come out of the house bearing Kurtz on a stretcher. Marlow describes Kurtz as looking like "an animated image of death carved... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
...African woman paces back and forth. The Russian's comments about her imply that she was Kurtz's mistress. (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Inside the cabin, an argument erupts between Kurtz and the General Manager. Kurtz accuses the General Manager of caring less about Kurtz himself... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
The General Manager exits from the cabin. He tells Marlow that Kurtz is very ill and that Kurtz's "unsound methods" ruined the district for the company. Marlow... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
...the General Manager and his men, and seeing nothing more that he can do for Kurtz. But before departing he tells Marlow that it was Kurtz who ordered the native attack... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
...goes to sleep, but wakes suddenly just after midnight. As he looks around he notices Kurtz has disappeared. On the bank of the river, Marlow finds a trail through the grass... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
The next day the ship departs. Kurtz, in the pilothouse with Marlow, watches the natives and his mistress come to the shore.... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
As they travel swiftly downstream, the General Manager is pleased. After all, soon Kurtz will be dead and the General Manager will be secure in his position without having... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
The steamship soon breaks down, which doesn't surprise Marlow. But Kurtz becomes concerned he won't live to see Europe. He gives Marlow his papers, fearful that... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Work Theme Icon
...that on his deathbed he could think of nothing to say. That's why he admires Kurtz. The man had something to say: "The horror!" Marlow's describes Kurtz's statement as a moral... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
A representative of the Company comes to get Kurtz's papers from Marlow, who offers him only On the Suppression of Savage Customs (with the... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Kurtz's cousin soon shows up. The cousin, a musician, tells Marlow that Kurtz was himself a... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Soon after, a journalist stops by. He says Kurtz wasn't a great writer, but was a great speaker. He could have been a great... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
At last, Marlow works up the nerve to go to see Kurtz's Intended and give her the last of his letters. When she lets Marlow into her... (full context)
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Marlow, full of pity, does not dispute her claims. Finally, the Intended asks to hear Kurtz's last words. This is the question Marlow's been dreading. He pauses, then tells her that... (full context)