The Role of Women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

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The Role of Women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is more than a mere exploration of the harsh realities of European colonialism in Africa during the late nineteenth century. In fact, it is rich in symbolism as demonstrated by his negative portrayal of women. Conrad chooses his language well, for his prejudice towards women is easily recognizable. To him, women were nothing more than soft, delicate, and naive. However, Conrad's condemnation of women is no longer a valid interpretation of women in the 21st century; thus, we must overlook Conrad's invalid judgment of women and take a modernistic approach in scrutinizing the women's actual representation in Heart of Darkness. When looking
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He found them to constantly be in states of wishful thinking and saw only what they wanted to see. However, Marlow's aunt represents more than the average "out of touch" woman; she epitomizes the Europeans who thought that civilizing the Africans was the primary intention of colonialism.

This part of the European society thought that improving the lives of primitive cultures was the initial purpose of colonialism. Marlow became uncomfortable at his aunt's misinterpretation of the Company, so he "ventured to hint that the Company was run for profit" (16). Blinded by her narrow mindset, his aunt said, "You forget, dear Charlie, that the labourer is worthy of his hire" (16). Like Marlow's aunt, some Europeans put their faith in the Company's altruistic mission and trusted that the colonialists were morally driven to acculturate the Africans.

Not only did their myopic perspectives hinder them from learning the horrid truths of European colonialism, but their emotions were also too strong that it kept them oblivious to this terrible reality. Like Marlow's aunt, the Intended (Kurtz's fiancée) believed whole-heartedly in the goodness of the colonialists. Marlow visited the Intended after his death. When Marlow first saw her, she was dressed in black, which indicated that she was still in mourning. She loved and believed in Kurtz so much that all she took him for was a great and noble leader. She claimed that everyone around Kurtz highly

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