Women In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness portrays women in various different lights, through various different characters, such as Kurtz’s Intended, or his African mistress. Throughout much of the novel, Marlow does not consider any of the women his equal, and frequently maintains that they harbour naïve illusions. This in itself, however, proves that women hold a vital role; it is often argued that naïve illusions are the cause of social novels that aim to defend colonial development and commercial endeavours, which, in some instances, Heart of Darkness can be seen doing.
Conrad perceives women from the Victorian perspective, and paints them as being the personification of the more innocent and tender aspects of human nature. This is likely due to the oppressive social structure that existed when Heart of Darkness was written; both the author and the characters of the novel were the effects of an exclusively patriarchal European world, where men were the sole possessor of positions of power. As Andrew Roberts states, ‘a whole matrix of inter-male relationships involving competitiveness, desire, bonding, the sharing and appropriation of power and knowledge…functioned in this society’. Women in this society were typically used merely as scapegoats by men, often in a sexual manner; they were regarded as a shared desire, or common goal, and were thus excluded from achieving the same positions of power as men.
Women in the novel, however, are described in a threatening and sinister

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