Gender Role In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness Essay

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Gender Role In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
For the most part people who read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad may feel that the novella is strictly a story of exploration and racial discrimination. But to Johanna Smith who wrote “’Too Beautiful Altogether’: Ideologies of Gender and Empire in Heart of Darkness” it is much more than that. Johanna Smith along with Wallace Watson and Rita A. Bergenholtz agree that throughout Heart of Darkness there are tones of gender prejudice, but the way that these three different authors perceive and interpret those gender tones are to a certain extent different.
In “Too Beautiful Altogether” Smith points out that even though Heart of Darkness is an especially masculine account, femininity and
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To recognize ideological contradictions in Heart of Darkness, one needs to be on familiar terms with discourse. “A discourse is a “domain of language-use” (Belsey 5), a specific mode of speaking, writing, and thinking that includes certain shared assumptions” (Smith 190). One-example Smith gives of an ideology in Heart of Darkness is the ideology of gender or empire, written in the words feminine or savage. Johanna Smith gives many examples of Marlow’s contradictions that his ideological discourse of empire and gender work to mystify. In Heart of Darkness the women are often silenced. Smith points out the example of the laundress: the company’s chief accountant insists that she had to be taught to launder his clothes properly and that she had a strong disliking for the job. But you never truly hear her side of the story; Smith suggests “Marlow’s silencing of the laundress shows Marlow’s authority as the masculine narrator of his story, to conceal not only her story but also those of the other silent women in Heart of Darkness” (Smith 193). Marlow’s Way of self asserting his dominating silence of the women is a clear example of Marlow’s view towards women and is a key illustration of just how much Marlow believes he, as a male, is far more superior than a women. The second point
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