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The Portrayal of Women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

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Women have gained equality with men over the many centuries of the evolution of the modern western civilization. Hence, it cannot be overlooked that there still exist many literary examples of social disregard for woman potential. Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" exemplifies the Western patriarchal gender roles in which women are given the inferior status.<p> Not only are women portrayed as being inferior to men, but Marlow's (the protagonist's) seldom mentioning of them in his Congo adventure narrative symbolizes his view of their insignificance. There is a total of five women presented in Marlow's narrative but only three of them are significant minor characters: Marlow's aunt, Kurtz's African mistress, and Kurtz's "Intended." The…show more content…
She appears to be a greedy soul that wants a family member of hers to become wealthy through terrorizing and robbing innocent citizens of country for their valuable possession; ivory. From her perspective, the noble cause was as she put it 'weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways'. It is hard to comprehend how she knows the natives of Congo to be horrible people without personally interacting with them. This talk from his aunt actually makes Marlow feel 'uncomfortable' since he later learns that his aunt and the rest of the British are the truly ignorant millions, and not the natives of Congo.

The next mentioning of a female character in "Heart of Darkness" is that of Kurtz's "Intended." Since Marlow's interaction with her comes at the end of the story, Kurt's African mistress is the next female character Marlow encounters upon reaching the Inner Station. Her first appearance is when the ill Kurtz is being taken aboard the steamboat and with body remarks to her, Marlow's Russian counterpart describes her as being mischievous. Marlow's choice of words to describe the mistress contrasts this. As she walks with her head high, he sees her as being proud and beautiful, with "a
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