Tess Of The D Urbervilles And Heart Of Darkness Analysis

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The women in both Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness are seemingly presented with traditional feminine qualities of inferiority, weakness and sexual objectification. However, the power that they hold in male-female relationships, and their embodiment of traditional male roles, contests the chauvinistic views of society during Conrad and Hardy’s era. While Conrad presents powerful female characters through their influences over men, the reversal of traditional gender roles is exemplified more by Hardy’s character, Tess, yet both authors present revolutionary ideas of feminism, and enlighten readers to challenge the patriarchal views of society towards women. Both novels criticize traditional societal views towards…show more content…
Prince’s death, the rape and her arrest all happen to her whilst asleep. The community and her unsupportive parents’ cold treatment towards Tess following these events emphasize the hegemonic male perspective of society towards women. Furthermore, Hardy shows how women are seen by society through the male gaze as sexual objects, as Tess is blamed for Alec’s lack of self-control. He attempts to justify his cruel actions as he calls Tess a “temptress” and the “dear damned witch of Babylon” (Hardy 316), yet he later says that he has “come to tempt [her]” (340). Tess is also objectified by Alec when he says that if Tess is “any man’s wife [she] is [his]” (325). The narrator’s repeated sexualized descriptions of Tess, such as her “pouted-up deep red mouth” (39), further demonstrate how women are commonly seen through the male gaze in…show more content…
Kurtz’s “superb … magnificent” mistress who “[has] the value of several elephant tusks upon her” (Conrad 137) also exemplifies power. The Russian reveals the extent of her influence on Kurtz as he recalls how she once “talked like a fury”, but Kurtz “felt too ill that day to care, or there would have been mischief” (138). The Russian also feels threatened by Kurtz’s mistress, as he “has been risking [his] life everyday … to keep her out of the house” (138). The sexist and racist attitudes of that era, in addition to the idolized Kurtz’s savage behaviour towards the Africans, amplify the anomaly of an African woman instilling fear into colonial white men. Conrad establishes the influence that women can have, as it clearly contrasts Hardy’s insinuation of the powerless nature of females when compared to men. While both novels show women embodying traditional male roles and characteristics, the chivalric trait of honour in a woman is most prominent in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. While males are dominantly seen as the providers in Western society, Marlow’s aunt secures his position with The Company. Comparably, Tess takes on her inebriated father’s responsibility as a caretaker and provider when she attempts to deliver the wagonload of beehives for

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