Gender Differences In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness And Things Fall Apart

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Men and women are expected to behave in certain ways. These presumptions on genders are shaped by the prevailing ideologies in societies, encouraging societies to attribute roles for men and women. Supported by the definition from World Health Organisation, genders are “socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.” (WHO, 2017) These presumed thoughts on the two sexes lay the foundation for the perceptions on genders. From Lessing’s point of view, the fundamental differences between masculinity and femininity are that “[m]en are restless, adventurous [while] women are conservative.”

Since genders are argued to be shaped by ideologies, in this essay, I would like to explore to what extent do Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart agree the notion of western colonial and traditional African ideologies presuppose these fundamental gender differences?

To discuss the argument men are restless and adventurous, male protagonists are chosen from the two texts for justifications. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad sheds light on Marlow’s characterization as “adventurous”. To achieve that, the writer employs the “Boy’s Own type of narrative” in Marlow’s reminiscence of his childhood, unveiling the protagonist’s fantasy to explore the unknown.

“[W]hen I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of
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