• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Women in Heart of Darkness Essay. There are only three relatively minor female characters in Heart of Darkness: Marlows aunt, Kurtzs mistress, and Kurtzs "Intended", who was Kurtzs fianc.

Extracts from this document...


Dishali Patel Vergien-1 Feb. 7th 2011 Feminist Criticism Analysis of Heart of Darkness In Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, Marlow's view of women embodies the typical 19th century view of women as the inferior sex. There are only three relatively minor female characters in Heart of Darkness: Marlow's aunt, Kurtz's mistress, and Kurtz's "Intended", who was Kurtz's fianc�. Marlow mentions these female characters in order to give the literal aspect of his tale more substance. While they play specific roles in the story, they do not relate with the primary theme of the story. The primary theme focuses on how Marlow's journey into the Heart of Darkness. It contrasts the "white" souls of the black people and the "black" souls of the whites who exploit them, and how it led to Marlow's self-discovery. From the starting of Marlow's story Conrad tells how he, "Charlie Marlow, set the women to work--to get a job. Heavens! Well, you see, the notion drove me. I had an aunt, a dear enthusiastic soul. She wrote: 'It will be delightful. ...read more.


Marlow's aunt is one of the few women with power, but only because she knows powerful men. The two other female characters are not mentioned until much later in the story, after Marlow has arrived at the Inner Station. When Marlow reaches this point in his tale, he jumps ahead and talks a minimal amount about "The Intended", Kurtz's na�ve fianc� who was to marry Kurtz when he returned. The Intended woman does not appear until the very end of the novel, in which Marlow visits her and lies to her about Kurtz's dying words. Her unshakable certainty about Kurtz's love for her reinforces Marlow's belief that women live in a dream world, well insulated from reality. "Girl! What? Did I mention a girl? Oh, she is out of it - completely. They - the women, I mean - are out of it - should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse." (Part 2, page 29) At the first mention of the Intended, Marlow reverts back to his opinion of women as completely out of touch with reality. ...read more.


and innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre things, charms, gifts of witch-men that hung about her glittered and trembled at every step."(Part 3, page 14) In the book, Heart of Darkness, This seductive native African woman has the air of a warrior. She walks regally and without fear, her hair is "done in the shape of a helmet," and she wears protective brass coverings on her limbs. She appears a bit later on when Marlow and Kurtz depart on the steamboat, and is not scared off when Marlow blows the whistle. She stretches her arms out towards the steamer, and that is the last time she is seen. The limited depiction of female characters in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the way in which the three female characters are referred to by Marlow reflect Marlow's view of women as inferior. Marlow's opinion of women manifests the typical 19th century views of women. While the women do play key roles in the plot of the story, they do not influence the main theme of the story, which is of Marlow's exploration of the darkness which is inherent in the human soul. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Portrayal of colonisers and the colonised in Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness

    3 star(s)

    The black man is being described as " I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking".

  2. Extended Essay

    Garip bir kadin d�smanligi vardir Nermin'in, yazar gibi. Yine arkadasi Semsa'nin betimlendigi b�l�me d�n�l�rse bu a�ikca g�r�l�r: "Zehirli bir zekasi vardi, k�t� niyetli bir takibi, hata bulmaya yararli bir dikkati" (YT, s.283) Zeka, takip, dikkat gibi �zellikler bir isyerinde, okul hayatinda, dernek y�netiminde bir kiside aranan, bulunmasi gerekli �zelliklerdir.

  1. Persuasive essay on Racism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

    Is Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness" displaying Conrad's antipathy against the African's during that time period? Or is he just trying to create a dramatic setting for his story? Conrad's illustration of the Africans at this time shows that he does not think of them as civilized human being.

  2. Hedda Gabler- structure of the play and the major characters

    fact that it has always been abundant and beautiful, and because it shows the qualities in Thea that Hedda does not have, such as femininity and obvious beauty. The pistols on the other hand suggest Hedda's masculinity and her longing for a life that she could never have.

  1. "Heart of Darkness" commentary. This extract belongs to part 3 of the book, ...

    The fact that "light" and "dark" are used close to each other creates a juxtaposition that clearly emphasizes the ancient belief that light symbolizes life and goodness while darkness symbolizes death and evilness. Light is brought by Marlow's candle which suggests that he symbolizes goodness and since "the light was

  2. Hamlet Journal - rewriting key passages from the play

    That symbolizes faithfulness and how it died with all these characters. She used all these flowers to show the underlying story line of the play. IV.vii. "There is a willow grass aslant a brook...." n, a, n. There's a willow that leans over the brook, dangling that leans over the brook with its white leaves touching the surface.

  1. the portrayal of women in lysistrata

    It is this very reason which fuels women's desperation and pushes them take the oath of abstinence, despite their reluctance. Whilst pursuing their aims, women break their mold of quiet housewives; they leave behind this stereotype to show they are also brave and bold.

  2. Comparative Essay Heart of Darkness vs Apocalyspe Now

    In doing so he keeps himself in the civil ground, foreshadowing how he must inevitably be afflicted by the death/disease that results in such a choice. The Expedition's value of their life over their morality is shown again when they hear shrieking sounds in the fog - they were "greatly discomposed" and "trembling" (Conrad, 36)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work