Women In Macbeth And Heart Of Darkness

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Wage gap, rape culture, the right to vote: these are a few of the issues women have faced in the most recent centuries, but women have been historically segregated from their male counterparts, and William Shakespeare and Joseph Conrad are not exceptions. They, too, in both Macbeth and Heart of Darkness, discuss how women are presented in contrasting ways; Conrad argues that women are too naive to handle the “real world” while Shakespeare portrays women as strong, independent figures through the use of powerful diction and tone as well as examining their impact on other characters.
Both Shakespeare and Conrad use powerful diction to convey a message about women to the reader. Shakespeare uses such diction to portray women as mysterious yet
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The women of Macbeth have a significant impact on the story, and their male counterparts. The three, famous, conniving Weïrd Sisters have a major impact on Macbeth and are the reasons he spirals into insanity, as evident in scene three when the third witch proclaims, “All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!” (Shakespeare. I. III. 53). By foreshadowing what could be his, the witches sparks Macbeth’s sense of ambition and cause him to think about the possibilities of him becoming king, after all. They also set Macbeth up for his death, assuring him that, “Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until / Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill / Shall come against him.” (Shakespeare. IV. I. 92-94). Macbeth assumes that Birnam wood will never come upon his castle, it is a forest after all, which ultimately leads to his final, tragic demise. These prophecies play with Macbeth’s sanity and show that women are often underestimated, yet powerful. Of course another example of this in Macbeth is Lady Macbeth, who essentially forces her husband to murder Duncan. Women in Macbeth greatly influence the men, and move the story forward, proving that they are powerful, amidst a majority of people who feel they are…show more content…
Conrad shows how Marlow shifts from seeing women as useless, “out of touch,” underlings, to amazing, pristine, ethereal creatures. This is evident in the way Marlow describes the wild woman he sees while visiting Kurtz in the Congo, observing how, "She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre things, charms, gifts of witch-men, that hung about her, glittered and trembled at every step," (Conrad. 55-56). This description is much kinder, much more respectful, than the way he described women at the start of the story. This change reflects Marlow’s own mental change, the transformation which he underwent during his journey. Marlow (and indirectly, Conrad) shows he has respect for this woman, and recognizes her as a strong individual. In the beginning of the book, as previously mentioned, Marlow describes women as “out of touch,” and “in a world of their own,” (Conrad. 28) but after his journey through the nexus of the Congo, Marlow realizes that women are similar to men. Both men and women were dehumanized in the imperialistic exploitation of the Congo, and as Marlow
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