Gender Roles In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

1034 Words5 Pages
The novella Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad in the late 19th century, examines the cultural divergence between Europe and Africa. In the text, Charlie Marlow, the narrator, recounts his journey to Congo and provides insight into the gender roles within European and African society. It is important to consider the period in which this novella was written, because at the time, Europe had a very male dominant society. This is evident in Heart of Darkness, as almost all of the characters are male, including Marlow and Conrad himself. Due to the preeminence of men in the novella, women are depicted solely from a male perspective. There are three women in the text: Kurtz’s Intended, Marlow’s aunt and Kurtz’s African mistress. Joseph Conrad utilizes femininity as a medium in which he can emphasize the dissimilarity of European and African society. Conrad categorizes the three women into two different archetypes: Mr. Kurtz’s Intended and Marlow’s aunt embody the archetypal Victorian woman, while Kurtz’s mistress is modeled after the African woman. By separating the females into two groups, Conrad is able to draw a distinct line between 19th century African and European culture. Joseph Conrad represents both Marlow’s aunt and Kurtz’s Intended as naive characters, which was a common 19th century stereotype. The first female character we are introduced to is Marlow’s aunt. She works as a secretary at a Belgian company that extracts ivory from Congo and ships it back to
Open Document