Heart of Darkness
Women in Heart of Darkness
Throughout history, women have often been relegated to trivial and demeaning roles. From one standpoint, women in Heart of Darkness appear to have much more power than traditional roles have allowed. For example, Marlow's aunt has significant influence within the Company since she is able to get Marlow a job, and the native mistress has a commanding presence within her tribe. Upon closer examination, however, the male patriarchal view of women in society, specifically by Marlow and Kurtz in the book, limits the importance of women. In the novel, women are viewed and treated as only two ways: inferior to men and ignorant of reality, despite any air of importance they may exhibit. Thus, although women appear superficially important in the novel, their roles are actually constrained by their male counterparts.
Marlow's aunt is the first woman readers see. She initially comes across as being a significant character since Marlow turns to her to get him a job. Marlow's aunt knows "the wife of a very high personage in the Administration, and also a man who has lots of influence" (44), suggesting that she is also respected by society. But, her worth is still secondary in Marlow's opinion: Marlow comments that...
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