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The Role of Women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Length: 1476 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)
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The Role of Women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness


Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is more than a mere exploration of the harsh realities of European colonialism in Africa during the late nineteenth century. In fact, it is rich in symbolism as demonstrated by his negative portrayal of women. Conrad chooses his language well, for his prejudice towards women is easily recognizable. To him, women were nothing more than soft, delicate, and naive. However, Conrad's condemnation of women is no longer a valid interpretation of women in the 21st century; thus, we must overlook Conrad's invalid judgment of women and take a modernistic approach in scrutinizing the women's actual representation in Heart of Darkness. When looking at the role of women in Heart of Darkness through a twenty-first century perspective, it becomes apparent that these women represent parts of the European societies that were in the dark about the brutalities of colonialism. Conrad used Marlow to demonstrate his attitude towards the obliviousness of women, who paralleled the unawareness of the E...


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...Patrick. "Heart of Darkness: Anti-Imperialism, Racism, or Impressionism?"  Murfin 277-298.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Murfin 17-95.

Murfin, Ross C., ed. Heart of Darkness: Complete, Authoritative Text with Biographical and Historical Contexts, Critical History, and Essays from Five Contemporary Critical Perspectives. 2nd ed. Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin's P, 1996.

Smith, Johanna M. "'Too Beautiful Altogether': Ideologies of Gender and Empire in Heart of Darkness." Murfin 169-184.

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