The Role Of Women In Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness

913 words - 4 pages

The general pattern in the work of Joseph Conrad’s novels is a male-dominated world. In the colonial journeys, dangerous activities, astonishing discoveries and many other events and experiences that generally construct the plots of his novels were the worries of men, but not female in the Victorian Era. Women in the Victorian Era were joyful with their domestic-social life and were not involved in any dangerous activities, because it was a long period of peace in Great Britain. Thus, in most Conrad’s works, there was less involvement of women characters by creating less character than men and not letting them play a primary role that control or shape the plot of the story.
The Heart of Darkness is an exception to the fact that in Conrad’s novels women are unimportant characters. Even though we know that author’s women usually do not talk so much and men outnumber them, it does not mean that they play a minor role in the novel. Female characters in the novel are hazy and under-developed not because Conrad wasn’t able to fully shape them or because he thought it was not important to do so, but because the theme of The Heart of Darkness could barely let them become a primary without the chance of making the story unrealistic. Setting a women character at the center of imperialist-colonial events would make the story hardly believable. It was also found that female characters in the story were made without a name. This can suggest the denial of their own identities, thus making them appear as minor characters as the novel demands them to be. Because of this, women in the novel become the most mystified characters, at the same time still playing an important role in The Heart of Darkness.
The women in The Heart of Darkness are divided into two categories: the civilized Europeans and the violent African. Both of the Europeans, despite their age difference, have one similar point – the complete ignorance of the reality of colonialism. The Aunt thinks that Marlow is joining a magnificent mission because he holds white man’s burden on his shoulders to civilize the violent Africans. This character appears as pure, devoted and in need for protection that believes that imperialism is humanitarian. On the other hand the Intended has a similar opinion on Kurtz. She thinks that Kurtz was dedicated himself to a moral kind of mission and that his death was not worthless. She’s devoted to Kurtz and fully idolizes him, which also suggests her blindness of reality.
Through these characters the readers can realize the big hole between the unpleasant realities of colonialism as expressed in the novel and the blind views of the aunt and the intended about colonial activities. And because...

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