Marlow’s Opinion Of Women In The Heart Of Darkness

2132 words - 9 pages

Marlow's Opinion of Women in the Heart of Darkness In Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, there are very few female characters. While they do not bear great importance to the plot of the story, they do give it more substance and insight into the other characters. These women introduce subjects such as: lust, love, purity, fate, and ignorance, to name a few. Without these topics, Heart of Darkness would have lacked the emotion and energy that these females provided, thus making it not nearly as interesting for the readers. Nevertheless, Conrad's main character, Charlie Marlow describes them in ways that usually degrades them and/or attempts to take away their power. Marlow makes them appear inferior to serve as a strategy to deny the importance of these women as well as his affinity with them. Heart of Darkness tells the story of a man, Marlow, a thirty-two year old introspective sailor, and his journey through the savage jungle of the Congo. Marlow is thought to be an autobiographical character and therefore, Joseph Conrad himself. In the jungle, an ivory company is located and provides the setting for our characters. The novel continues on to show him the real horror of life"¦and the evil that lives in all men, even himself. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow talks about how women would live without men, "They live in a world of their own and there had never been anything like it and never can be." The woman's world that Marlow imagines "is too beautiful altogether," and "if they were to set it up it would go to pieces"¦"(Conrad 26). Nelson Hilton, in his book Lexis Complexes adds, to appreciate the pun which then follows, note that Conrad had already written a female acquaintance that "woman have a more penetrating vision, and a greater endurance of life's perversities. Some confounded fact which we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation, would start up and knock the whole thing over." (Nelson) Nelson feels that it is patriarchy that gives Conrad this opinion.Although shallow, Rita Bergenholtz's thoughts on Marlow's introduction of the two knitting woman provide a good starting idea of his opinion of women. It also helps support the theory that Marlow tries to reduce the importance of women and deny his similarity with them.The manner in which Marlow introduces these two women is significant, for it alerts us to fact that in order to deal with people, places, and things Marlow must transform them into abstractions or symbols (32).He does this to degrade them as nothing but body shapes. At the same time, these women also symbolize the fate of Marlow and his travels.This scene is often compared to a poem by Vergil, in the sixth book of the Aeneid. It is about Aeneas' decent to hell and the guide, the Sibyl of Cumae, that takes him through hell. Both the guide and the women know of the fate that awaits the adventurers. They both know the secrets in the heart...

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