Dominance Of Males In Heart Of Darkness And Things Fall Apart

2722 words - 11 pages

Dominance of Males in Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart

One approach to understanding a culture entails an investigation of its
art. By studying the art of multiple cultures, recurrent themes may help
to define universal attributes of human nature. With this premise in mind,
an obvious corollary suggests that the few similarities between highly
disparate cultures may be particularly exemplary of humankind. Cultural
differences become readily apparent when a technologically advanced
society subdues one that is less advanced, such as what occurred during
the European colonization of Africa. Joseph Conrad's famous novella Heart
of Darkness deals with this subject. The story unfolds during the same
time that Conrad wrote it so the meditations of European narrator Charlie
Marlow are indicative of Conrad's society. To compliment this, Chinua
Achebe authored Things Fall Apart, a book that accurately portrays African
society as it existed immediately prior to the cataclysmic entrance of
Europeans. While a mere glance at these works reveals the overwhelming
contrast between European and African cultures, a more observant eye might
note a consistency in male attitudes with regard to females. The European
and African cultures of Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Achebe's Things
Fall Apart denote most women as inferior to men and ascribe mythical
qualities to the few exceptions, suggesting that men instinctively control
women but figuratively empower those they cannot dominate. Heart of
Darkness illustrates how European men feel that they must protect women by
condescending to their rose-tinted notions of life. Likewise, the men of
Things Fall Apart also look down upon women as subservient creatures
vulnerable to their own ignorance. Beyond that, both stories feature
ominously uncontrollable women. These sorceress-like women impress and
intimidate men with their mysticism, causing men to perpetuate their
grandeur so that they become personified deities.

Under the circumstances that men regard women as either inferior or
superior to themselves, one may conclude that men naturally seek to
control women and justify their inability to control some because of their
holier-than-thou qualities.

In Heart of Darkness, Marlow, whose social values represent those of his
real-life contemporaries, demonstrate how European men regard women as
inferior beings. Without giving it much consideration, Marlow asserts his
control over his aunt and his antagonist's former fiancée because of their
secondary status as women. He visits his aunt before leaving for Africa,
who believes he aims to enlighten the savages to civilized lifestyles.
Although this is not his...

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