Misogyny, the hatred or dislike of females, is a recurrent theme in World Literature. Women’s suffrage was at its prime between 1840 and 1920. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, two stories based in Africa, show different points of misogyny, the first being from the time of women’s suffrage, and the latter being after the women’s suffrage movement. The value, view, and role of women was undermined greatly in these two novels.
Heart of Darkness was published in 1902, deep in with time of the women’s suffrage movement. The author, Joseph Conrad, wrote this novella with a tone that is accepting of sexism. There is no respect for women in Heart of Darkness. Unlike Heart of Darkness, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe expresses a non-accepting tone of sexism and shows women in a better image, although sexism does play a large role in the story. This story was published in 1958, right after the women’s suffrage movement, so the non-accepting tone is understandable.
Not one of the three female characters in given a name in Heart of Darkness. This makes it seem as though women do not matter enough to be given a name. In Things Fall Apart, each woman is given a name. Only three important instances involve women in Heart of Darkness, Marlow’s conversation with his aunt, Kurtz painting, and Marlow’s conversation with Kurtz’s fiancée. Besides these three events, women are kept out of the story.
“Girl! What? Did I mention a girl? Oh, she is out of it – completely. They – the women I mean – are out of it – should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own least our gets worse. Oh, she had to be out of it. You should have heard the disinterred body of Mr. Kurtz saying, ‘My Intended; you would have perceived directly then how completely she was out of it.” (Conrad 72)
Conrad has Marlow referring to women as if they are nothing constantly.
Women, in Things Fall Apart, are not allowed to grow yams because they are considered the “man’s crop.” Despite this, they are still appreciated for growing smaller crops and doing the small tasks they always do. Okonkwo says, “No that is a boy’s job,” when his daughter Ezinma tries to bring over a chair. (Achebe 1042) This reaction from Okonkwo shows that men have enough respect for women to not have them do heavy work. Another side of this, though, can suggest that men think women are not strong enough to do heavy work. Women are also not allowed to take place in most ceremonies, but when they were, it was like they did not belong. “It was clear from the way the crowd stood and sat that the ceremony was for men. There were many women, but they looked on from the fringe like outsiders.” (Achebe 1061) Women are not given an equal chance and excluded from society.
Heart of Darkness portrays women as powerless, prohibited from attaining positions of power and knowledge. The misogyny is clear throughout the novella. The role of women in society is...