Marlow’s need to reduce the women to mere symbolism can be seen through Kurtz’s painting. The woman is “draped and blindfolded” “carrying a lighted torch” (p.25) representing Justice and Liberty respectively. The amalgamation of Justice and Liberty portrays the woman (and by extension women) as pure, ethereal, and civilized. The woman in the picture could be the Intended who is seen to possess these qualities. Kurtz’s oil sketch further represents the perfect woman. By blindfolding her and making her unable to see the light she emits against the dark “almost black” (p.25) background, he makes her ignorant to her own im...
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...rlow’s Aunt and the Two Knitting Women could represent life and death, safety and uncertainty, they are important characters because their actions influence both Marlow and the narrative.
Although, the women of Heart of Darkness seem to have little or no importance beyond mere symbolism, they all have an effect on Marlow. Each woman within the novella either contributes to the narrative or influences him. His elevation of the women often makes them appear to be too perfect, unrealistic and simple characters. Yet, all the women are actually much more influential and important, altering Marlow’s thoughts and perceptions of the world around him as he fights for dominance over these women. Whilst these women could be seen as merely symbolic and completely “out of it” (p.48), they are in fact as important as the men and should be treated as characters not mere symbols.
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