Heart of Darkness

Synergistic Crises: Feminist and Post-Feminist Readings of Heart of Darkness

Smith asseverates that she has “tried to show the utility for imperialist ideology of a gender ideology that constructs a feminine sphere as ‘too beautiful altogether’” (Smith183). She presents her thesis through an engagement with feminist “rethinking” (169), successfully noting the binary relationship between men and women. This paper pares down Smith’s argument into its most elemental form: By clannishly attributing undesirable feminine interpretations of imperialist ideology to women, using the literary tools of silencing and symbolizing, Marlow is empowered to formulate his personal masculine construction to obviate the collapse of the separate spheres of genders. In her supporting points calling on the representation of each significant woman in the novel, Smith indeed stays true to the ‘first-wave’ feminist methodology of, “identifying and opposing the various ways women are excluded, suppressed, and exploited” (Lynn 212). However, an important point to note is that she only sporadically ventures beyond, into post-feminism thinking of, “exposing the arbitrariness of this (male) privileging by reversing it, advocating matriarchal values” (214). Evidently, Smith has an ambiguous rending of feminist criticism.


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