Alexis of life was very limited compared to men’s

Alexis RomeroMrs. SilverAP Literature & Composition22 December 2017Women’s Role in Heart of DarknessWomen’s role in all aspects of life was very limited compared to men’s dominance in the nineteenth century when Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness takes place. These societal norms seem to be consistent in the novella, but in reality, Joseph Conrad allows women to play a much more important role. The two main female characters in the novella, Kurtz’s Intended and his African Mistress, are not mentioned often and have even fewer thoughts of their own; however, Joseph Conrad actually uses these women as contradicting symbols to develop the protagonist, Marlow.Heart of Darkness is clearly led by male actions, words, and beliefs, whereas females are not even given real names, let alone original thoughts. This idea is stated right at the beginning of the novella, “It’s queer how out of touch with the truth women are” (10). These few words create the distinction between the attitudes regarding man’s superiority and woman’s inferiority throughout the entire story. Rather than having real names, the women are only known in reference to Mr. Kurtz, as his Intended fiancée and his Mistress. Throughout the novella the female characters have little to no narrative voices which the men deem proper: “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, lest ours gets worse” (44). All the men in this novella believe that the women should stay on the sidelines and have no part in the real world. Despite the male characters attempting to push the women outside of the story’s main plot and into their own little world, Conrad allows for these women to influence Marlow’s character development throughout his journey more than any of the other characters. The women’s purposes in the novella are not stated explicitly like the men’s purposes; instead, the reader is forced to dive deeper into Conrad’s ambiguous implications of the Mistress and the Intended’s roles in order to expand Marlow’s character.The Intended may not be valued in terms of her spoken voice, but she is imperative to the progression of Marlow’s character and symbolizing the civilized people. The Intended is the one who exposes the fact that darkness exists outside of Africa too. Marlow telling the Intended a lie causes him to recognize that the darkness is everywhere: “The last words he pronounced was–your name” (71). Marlow lying to the Intended in Europe finally made him realize that he did not escape the darkness when he left Africa. Lying in itself is a form of evil, and this darkness still consumes him in the supposed civilized society of Europe. The Intended’s major role in the novella is compelling Marlow to grasp the idea that the darkness is not something he can run away from. This corruption is found within every human being including himself no matter their race or culture. The Intended may only appear in the story for a short time, but she adds to the significance of the overall meaning of the novella. This European woman represents purity, civilization, and order. Marlow describes the Intended as having, “a soul as translucently pure as a cliff of crystal… fair hair, pale visage, and pure brow” (65). All of these features described by Marlow cause the Intended to appear clean and innocent, which is how Marlow recognizes the fact that she symbolizes everything the white men are fighting to protect. While the Intended symbolizes the light and virtue of the civilized world, the Mistress represents the ferocity and darkness in all of the savages. Conrad includes these female characters to create the sharp cultural contrast between the two continents of Europe and Africa.The Mistress may be seen as one of the most insignificant characters because she never says one word in the novella; nonetheless, her actions and symbolism allow for the progression of Marlow’s character.  Towards the end of the novella when Kurtz is about to leave, the African Mistress had to decide whether or not she was going to order an attack on the boat in hopes of keeping Kurtz in the Congo. The Mistress realizes that decreeing an attack would lead to a massacre of many African lives. This decision was not made out of fear: “Only the barbarous and superb woman did not so much as flinch, and stretch tragically her bare arms after us over the somber and glittering river” (62). Marlow saw how the Mistress’s restraint saved many lives which showed him that the light and goodness can even be seen in the heart of Africa. The Mistress plays a powerful role in the story by blurring the lines of light and dark between the supposed savages and civilized. The Mistress also plays an important role in the novella by being the perfect contrast to the Intended, symbolizing savagery and darkness. She completely portrayed the African wilderness: “She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress” (56). The Mistress representing the dark and powerful savage allows for Marlow to see what the colonizers strived to tame. Conrad’s comparison of the Mistress and the Intended ultimately leads him to realize that light can even be found in the symbol of all darkness, the Mistress. Throughout Heart of Darkness the women may not seem to have any sort of impact on the novella; however, the Intended and the Mistress actually develop Marlow’s character further than any man in the story. Without these two female characters, the story would not have come together like it did in the end with Marlow’s realization that darkness is actually everywhere, not just in Africa. Conrad’s use of the Intended and the Mistress being symbols of pure Europe and savage Africa also allows for Marlow to see the sharp cultural difference between the two continents. Despite the few words these women have to say, they play a much larger role than any other character in developing the protagonist, Marlow, in Heart of Darkness.Thesis StatementsIn the novella Heart of Darkness, the seemingly minor characters of the mistress and the intendant play the most important roles of the novella written by Joseph Conrad.The three seemingly simple female characters in Heart of Darkness, Marlow’s aunt, the Intendent, and the African Mistress, give more meaning to the main characters and the text as a whole through Joseph Conrad’s use of meaningful suggestions, symbols, and contrasts.The three seemingly simple female characters in Heart of Darkness including Marlow’s Aunt, Kurtz’s Intended, and his African Mistress, play the most important roles of the novella by providing more meaning to the main characters and the text as a whole through Joseph Conrad’s use of suggestions, symbols, and contrasts.The three women in the novella are not mentioned often and have even less thoughts of their own; however, Joseph Conrad goes slightly against the social norms of the late nineteenth century by having these three women impact the protagonist, Marlow, more than any other characters. The two main female characters in the novella, Kurtz’s Intended and his African Mistress, are not mentioned often and have even less thoughts of their own; however, Joseph Conrad actually uses these women as contradicting symbols to develop colonialism and the protagonist of the novella, Marlow.Topic SentencesThe Intended, who is Kurtz’s fiancee, not only symbolizes civilized Europe, but also develops Marlow’s character throughout the novel.provides justification for Marlow to lie, and forces him to realize that the darkness exists everywhereThe African Mistress in Heart of Darkness contrasts with the Intendent and Marlow’s Aunt through the theme of savage Africa and civilized Europe.1st women have no thoughts of their own, they are not seen much in the book2nd Intended influencing Marlow’s life3rd Mistress influences Marlow’s life

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