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Paper Topic:

How are women treated and/or portrayed in Conards Heart of Darkness?

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Women 's Role in Heart of Darkness


The two main female characters can be seen as symbols of the contrast between light and darkness . About Kurtz 's mistress it is told that She was savage and superb , wild-eyed and magnificent there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress (Conrad 125 ) She embodies the wild , untamed land of Africa . She is dark-skinned , haughty and unwavering . Her aloofness and savage nature add to the portrayal of

her as evil . Kurtz 's intended , who he leaves in Europe , she has fair hair , this pale visage , this pure brow , seemed surrounded by an ashy halo from which the dark eyes looked out at me (Conrad 143 ) Unlike the African woman , she hangs her head in sorrow . She is the ideal woman who will uphold the memory of Kurtz and be faithful , not passionate There is nothing evil about her , only napve good-intentions and unquestioning loyalty . A striking contrast in the story "Heart of Darkness " by Joseph Conrad is the differences between the two women that Kurtz is involved with . His intended , a white woman who waits faithfully for him in Europe , and his fiery African mistress help to reinforce the themes and ideas in the story

Kurtz 's mistress and his Intended also help us gain insight into his decline into madness . When Marlow meets him he no longer cares for the principles of society , and is cheating on his fiancy with the African woman . The African woman represents how Kurtz has formed an alliance with the natives


Conrad 's own belief that women are far removed from the reality of men is reinforced through his portrayal of Kurtz 's Intended . She cherishes the thought that Kurtz is a man dedicated to saving the Africans . She is certain that Kurtz loved her faithfully , never realizing that he has an African lover . At the end of the tale , Kurtz finds her so pathetic he attempts to lie to her about Kurtz 's last words . In her naivety , she seems to be living in a dream world . Despite their differences , Kurtz 's two women lovers in "Heart of Darkness " function as blank pages that Joseph Conrad can use to depict the removal from reality that he sees in women at the turn of the century . One , the African lover , represents darkness and the raw savageness of Africa , while the other , Kurtz 's intended , portrays trust and naivety of European women . These portrayals add to the themes and ideas from the story

Joseph Conrad portrays women characters simplistically in black and white . The white European women are innocent and ignorant . They are misinformed by the men , and Marlow believes this is for society 's sake In his society , the women are powerless and misinformed , and society is civilized . In the Congo , the women are strong and have power , yet the society is being oppressed by white men . In Marlow 's mentality , women...

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