Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad. Sometimes A Character May Appear For Only A Short Time Or Never Appear At All And Still Have A Great Impact Ona Work

1011 words - 4 pages

In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, there are many characters that make brief appearances, or never even utter a sentence. The character that I believe has the most influence compared with their actual time in the novel is "the gorgeous apparition of a woman" that appears for only a brief moment, but represents many of the stories central ideas (136). From Kurtz's corruption to the conflict between society and savagery, she is able to illustrate many ideas without doing anything more than walking.This woman sets her self apart from the other natives at first by stepping from the mass of "dark human shapes" at the "gloomy border of the forest" (136). The woman represents a combination of savagery and civilization. Her role as a savage is indicated by a "flash of barbarous ornaments" while these same ornaments point her out as at least semi-civilized (136). The bronze ornaments and ornate cloths could have only been obtained through Kurtz so it points to him as a civilizing influence on her. This is important because if he has an effect on her, she probably has one on him also. While the reader can only speculate as to why Kurtz obeys the desires of the woman, we know that Kurtz does ignore her whims occasionally (137).Through the entire encounter she maintains an air of prideful superiority except for the brief pause in her "measured steps" when the "sorrowful land.....seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul" (137). She only appears very briefly, and we are never given a definite reason for her pride. The reader must decide whether she is prideful because of the items she has that are from a civilized society, or if she is prideful because she knows that she will be able to survive in the land that kills so many after they are gone. All the reader knows is that she walks "with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly" (136). It could be that she uses her pride to ensure that whether or not Kurtz _and the civilization he represents_ stays, she will be able to continue to exist. Her self-assuredness may keep her tribe from ostracizing her for having too much to do with the white man, although the Russian pretty much states that the local natives worship Kurtz so there is little chance of her being cast out.There is a definite conflict within her between savagery and civilization. Her clothing is both fine and exotic. While the cloth is more civilized, the fringe (like the fringe on Native-American clothing) represents her primitiveness and that she is still on the border between the two ways of life. As Marlow described her as "She carried her head high; her hair is done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow," it is obvious that she...

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