Role of Women in Heart of Darkness Essay example

1641 Words Dec 15th, 2012 7 Pages
The Role of Women in Heart of Darkness

These days, women are as successful and as career-oriented as men. This fact is punctuated by the fact that women are now experiencing stress and disease that used to be the constant companions of men in the workforce. Such is the price of equality and career mobility! However, in the early 1900s, females were still held to be less viable than men and in stories were often portrayed as subservient and weak and thus cast in inferior roles to men. At this time, civilization did not recognize equality between men and women. Joseph Conrad, while considered unique in his critique of imperialism, reflected the traditional treatment of the women as the lesser sex and this represented in the Heart of
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The older knitter does not create such a positive or welcoming image but instead makes a haunting impression on Marlow as only an "uncanny and fateful" person can. Looking up from her knitting only to examine "the cheery and foolish faces with unconcerned old eyes," she clearly unsettles Marlow with her glance.
Upon review, such a disturbing incident leaves the reader to wonder if these two women are really of this world or might be considered to reside in the world of the supernatural. Of course, they cannot be because the "real world" to Marlow is the mainstream, or male dominated world. Instead, the two women seem to serve as "guardians of the door of darkness" and usher the men into another world altogether - that of the dark, wild and uncivilized jungle. The younger woman, still unwise in the ways of the world, relays the carefree attitude of men before they enter the Congo, but the old woman, not subject to the base animal desires of a man, sees all too clearly what happens to men in the "darkness.” However, she sits "unconcerned" in her own, objective female world and allows the men to discover if they have the inner strength to survive in the uncivilized jungle – within the the darkness.
Before Marlow decides to brave the challenges that await him within the Congo, he decides to visit his aunt to thank her for securing for him the job of steamboat captain.…