The role of Women in the Novel Heart of Darkness

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The Heart of Darkness is a fascinating book written in the twentieth century by Joseph Conrad. The fundamental issue raised by this book is the issue of imperialism. It entails countries expanding their forces beyond their borders and exploring limits in order to investigate the question of colonialism. It also addresses the question of bigotry. As he sails along the river using Voyage to Congo field, Marlow describes several facets of society that Africans should possess in relation to the treatment of women. The aunt insists glibly that he who goes to Congo is a lower kind of apostle. He further discovers the nature of the universe and extensively draws his comparison in relation to the population. The novel depicts some issues that portray the role those women in the society play and their meaning in relation to existence and in-universe civilization.

The theme of silencing and agency in Conrad imperial novella has been witnessed. These themes engage with some of the criticism surrounding Heart of Darkness and its treatment of race, especially Chinua Achebe’s criticism that Conrad is a racist. Achebe’s critiques of race invalidate Conrad’s complaints about the imperial project, especially his descriptions of its brutality and exploitative nature. It draws attention to the fact that Conrad’s condemnations of the imperial project only take into account the perspective of the white imperial male thus, making it an incredibly flawed critique. Marlow perceives the western women as undermined minority in that they do less because of the cultural aspects, which is a firm construct with no transcendent foundation in the perception of the male. During his course of the journey, he realized the irrational behaviors, which suggest the end of civilization in the western region if the region is imparted with the effects it imposes on the people. Even though he hates and detests mortality and death, he knew that the earth was full of irrationality and indifference in all aspects Thus, he had to structure himself on how to approach the issue of civilization in Africa using ideas and unselfish belief of ideas, not sentimental presence. In the case of observing the smooth flow of the river, the steady wood cutting for streaming and watching of snags and sunken stones in the river signifies the hidden truth that an individual possesses (Achebe 115). Despite his bit for linking the nature of the universe with the human behavior, the truth luckily lies on the clear observation and analysis of the ongoing process an individual perceives on a certain act. Marlow attitude towards women emerges as for how ignorant they are about the nature of the universe. The Russian nature of ignorance is correlated to that of a woman since they seemingly focus on an immediate rather than extensively further their thought for a better course of action. The weakness a woman has is that they concentrate on the issues within her circumference and forget about those outside her radius.

Justice has been portrayed by the Kurtz’s painting. Kurtz’s painting shows a picture of a woman who is standing still and holding a touch, and she is blindfolded (Conrad 25). The essence of this picture as commented by Kurtz resembles the little justice Africans had towards each other in all aspects. In this case, women have been perceived to be adopting the good things of the society, and thus they should be given an opportunity to exercise broadly. The casting out of light clearly portray their mindset of having visions of transformation; they should be kept in the truth of light which in turn will expand the perception people had towards their cultures.

The women are smart, and concerned in all aspects, and thus men should concentrate on making them stay beautiful (Conrad 49). He extracted evidence from her aunt since it was the central vicinity he dwelled on before making his analysis pertaining about the human character. The aunt welcomed her and gave him a comfortable environment that will allow smooth flow of analysis about how to restore the nature of western people to fit into the developed country. Consequently, the conversation made with his aunt reveal a set of malicious images of darkness and corruption since she views the colonizers as workers. Moreover, their trading activities were idealized to redeem the western African from their culture and serve them from the inherent truth about equality. She is a very enthusiastic person and has contacts with some of the high-level ranging in the company setup, which assist him to earn for a living. Aunt Marlow is also portrayed as a concerned woman who keeps on advising Marlow on how to capture the attention of ignorant Africans and expose them to the real world full of free of imperialism and racism. She had a perception that the message that Marlow will relay after his thorough observation will redeem the western people from the culture it existed, which in one way or the other have hindered the development. She was also fully out of touch with what was going on in Europe and the African continent. The way Conrad treats women was emulated by Marlow since they both argue about women being in touch with the happenings in their area of jurisdiction despite them being limited by focusing on the surrounding. However, women were even denied the freedom of working on their own and thus they were to be controlled by men which in turn impact them positively. Sometimes their rights to choose their leaders were suppressed and thus ending up creating chaos among the women and men in the regions.

Women had good governance especially in matters related to family chores and even country at large. The Marlow’s association with his aunt is limited to getting things done. When Marlow wants to visit Africa, he prefers seeking clarifications from the women than men since they found women are updated and to the point, about the mistreatment they undergo when it comes to their rights and government matters. Later on, he was disowned and elevated to talk with women. However, he thinks women to be lowly and incompetent.

Women are judgmental in the way that during the interview made by the aunt of Marlow to Marlow portrayed such kind of virtue. The woman was expecting Marlow to come and restore the country from poor cultures that have suppressed the country from proceeding in development and thus she accorded him a chance to resolve that issue. Clearly, women can transform the nature of the country indirectly through impact on the men. Somthing fascinating about the African woman is that she becomes the object of a gaze that goes beyond Marlow’s male gaze to encompass that of her entire surroundings. The colossal body of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her as pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul

Women offer protection and shelter to men, and thus men must protect the idealistic world that women inhabit so that they can be made comfortable. Marlow does not meet women frequently in Africa, since there were very few of them, and their names were hidden. He was attracted by the beauty of Kurtz’s mistress despite her being a black person and due to the expressions; she creates some fears in which scares Marlow from making an approach to her. Kurtz’s mistress has a very powerful presence in the novel. She impresses Marlow from the time he first meets her. Marlow decides to get rid of it before handing the issue over the official who approaches her. The patches on the Russian’s clothes that enhance his liminality are said to have been done beautifully.

Given the contexts in which beautiful has been used in the novella earlier, one wonders as to how commendable the Intended is for being so “beautiful. What does become clear in a careful observation of Conrad’s use of the term, is how being beautiful becomes closely intertwined with weakness, passivity, and malleability. Furthermore, she walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck. She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her. The image that paints Kurtz as a brave and civilizing presence in an uncivilized landscape. Like Stanley, Marlow seeks Kurtz's the practical and psychological goal towards which travels affirming the strong male community of conquerors in the that corresponds to the landscape of primeval Africa, traditionally characterized as feminine in such imperial narratives (Cole 255). However, when Marlow does get to Kurtz’s camp, he does not find affirming male friendship Kurtz has been fundamentally corrupted by his greed in the imperial landscape In Kurtz’s report for the “International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs, he espouses the same paternal and idealistic imperialism in the society.

Women are powerful; this was portrayed in the state of the Kurtz shouting without talking thus instilling fears to the people around her. Though she had great influence on her husband in all activities he undertook pertaining his business, Kurtz’s mistress has the capability to instill fear in the minds of others. However, neither Marlow nor the reader of the novel is in a position to know much about her, as she never speaks before others. Marlow himself understands her importance when the Russian talks about her in their conversation. The Russian trader tells Marlow that his mistress has created many problems for him in the past through her activities the only time when the readers of the novel notice her opening her mouth is when Marlow takes Kurtz away on his boat and she was left alone on the shore shouting. Marlow is reminded of his fiancée left back in England and that is the day start screaming. All this portray the character a lady should uphold which can facilitate the activities to proceed in a preferred manner. The African woman’s glance is so powerful that “the man of patches” expresses his wish to kill her should she manifest any desire to come aboard and protect himself using any preferred mechanism scampering for his safety. The gestures amount to what has become known in the feminist discourse, as masquerade in the sense of an unmasking of femininity displayed by the Marlow can be very difficult to realize the intention she us towards the progress. The mode of resistance to dominant patriarchal norms is crucial in trying to reduce the act of civilization in the society (Conrad 78). Furthermore, the African woman’s glance can also be likened to that of Medusa a mythological female figure, who, once the constant object of male desire, had her luscious hair transformed into snacks after being ravished by the earthly experience

Women are obedient and honest; this character was portrayed by the act of Marlow in trying to lie to Kurtz. The intended is a fiancé to Kurtz, and the act of lying demonstrates how she has been influenced in Congo (Conrad 50). Even when she was not married to Marlow, she used to talk about his mother before her death. While referring to Kurtz’s intended in the novel, Marlow once says, “His mother had died lately, watched over, as I was told, by his Intended” Despite being depicted as a capable person just like Kurtz’s mistress, she is not allowed to take independent decisions on her own. She is expected to follow everything men are referring to her since she is under men in all aspects as per their culture. This key character in the novel also exemplifies the initial idea of Marlow that women tend live in their world. Referring to women in general and his intended in particular, he makes it clear that women should be out of it, meaning they should be redeemed from the bondage of civilization. You should have heard the disinterred body of Mr. Kurtz Intended been have perceived directly as to how completely she was out of it

The women are fair in delivering the services required for the improvement of their standard in the society. Justice as witnessed by the last words of Kurtz’s mother before dying that the house might collapse before the heaven falls on her head. She is now regretting not making justice while she was in a stable condition. Kurtz said before dying was the name of his intended which extra-palate the likely lesson that people should initiate while alive. At the end of the novel, Kurtz defends to hide facts regarding Kurtz before her intended by saying that; the heavens do not fall for such a trifle. Most readers of Heart of Darkness would perhaps concede that the imposing figure of the sensually seductive African woman exercises a far greater fascination with them than does that of Kurtz’s insipid and prudish white fiancée. For one thing, the indigenous woman is associated with, as Susan Stewart has put it, a superfluity of nature over culture hence, the gigantic and the sensual world versus Kurtz’s

The African mistress signifies the wealth of Africa, and thus women are important initiators of wealth in the society. They should dress nicely with jewelry, and the act of remaining standing portray the essence of how powerful the are in the society. The overpowering of women around territories will shun away the act of unnecessary issues being embedded in the country (Achebe 15). However, this can only happen after when women are supplementing the efforts of men. African women bear the function of medieval that is metro, and thus there is no resin as to why they are prone to silence. Notably, this kind of act scares away the intruders since people might not understand their intentions to remain silent. In addition, the language used might not be understandable and thus relying on the information may be difficult rendering the recipient a rough time in receiving the information (Wesley& Charlie 28). The fear she evokes becomes one with the tenebrous soul of the earth she inhabits as the most thread ever wit nest in the history of the earth and as such, she can be compared to the Sybil whose cavernous territory travelers like Aeneas had to seek before plunging into the Underworld. Conrad depicts this African enchanter of the wilderness as throwing up her arms as though in an uncontrollable desire to touch the sky and at the same time trying to help the people who resist change.

Women are keen and observant in all aspects. The knitting women Marlow made in the office had a significant representation of the mythological fate (Conrad, 12). The myth about the strangers from outside the country was that they could spin, count and measure the threads of life and thus such perception could give the watch to an individual of a different race. They are conquerors that can force things to happen but use the strength that provided by the men in the society since the use knowledge to solve and issues. The fat women at the company had a capacity to gauge the capability an individual possess in solving a problem in a native land and that’s where Marlow life was being measured.

The darkness which is often mentioned refers not only to the darkness within men, to the mysterious and the unpredictable. Also it portrays the ignorance and illusions: it is significant that as Marlow talks with Kurtz's Intended, the darkness deepened, The African woman faces the truth and endures the pain of her dereliction, whilst the illusions of the two European women are also the fond illusions of European society the heart of darkness is an interesting novel that draws a lot of lessons that an individual must possess in facilitating change within the society. Women are important creatures on the face of the earth that require reinforcement from men to carry out their respective activities within the society. However, the issue of culture and racism has greatly extended the issue of mistreatment women have undergone in fighting for their rights. The Marlow being the most threat that will salvage the African culture, and will have dominion over the existing resources treated colonization of Africans.

The novel portrays various tactics of approaching issues; Marlow uses the nature of the universe and compares it to the behavior of the people who bonded with cultures, and which are required to be removed for people to be civilized and able to interact with each other. People should be flexible in accepting changes, and women should be treated the same way as a man since both are interdependent. The survive mechanisms of both depend on each other and thus they should be treated equally in the society.

Works cited

Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa." Research in African Literatures

9.1 (1978): 115. JSTOR. Web. 6 Mar. 2015.

Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." The Massachusetts Review 57.1 (2016): 14-27.

Cole, Sarah. "ConradianAlienation and Imperial Intimacy."MFS Modern Fiction Studies44.2 (1998): 251-281.Project MUSE Web. 17 Mar. 2016.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: PlaneteBook, 2013. Web. 17 May. 2017. ReadingSelections-Conrad-HeartDarknestDarkness.pdf

Wesley, Charlie. "Inscriptions of resistance in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Journal of Modern Literature 38.3 (2015): 20-37.

September 11, 2021



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