Friday, September 20, 2019
Sexist Attitude in Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness Essay -- Heart Da
Sexist Attitude in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness This paper will discuss the way Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness relies, both thematically and formally, on values that could be called sexist. By "sexism" I mean the those cultural assumptions that make women be regarded, unjustly, as in different ways inferior to men: socially, intellectually and morally. Since Heart of Darkness has often been regarded as one of the best and profoundest discussions of morality in English literature, this issue is very important. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is how the narrative itself is thought of as unsuitable for women. The narration takes place on a small sailing boat, waiting for the ebb of the Thames to bring it out to the sea, and the listeners to Marlowe's story, of whom the primary narrator is one, are all men. They are, moreover, all comrades, and can be assumed to share certain fundamental values. Some of these values, a blind patriotism for example, are questioned by Marlowe's narrative, while others, such as the contemporary attitude towards women are only confirmed and reinforced. There are not only very few female participants in the story. The secondary, although most important narrator Marlowe, at several points defines the story as itself ill-suited for feminine ears: Girl! What? Did I mention a girl? Oh, she is out of it - completely. They - the women I mean - are out of it - should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own least our gets worse. Oh, she had to be out of it. You should have heard the disinterred body of Mr. Kurtz saying, 'My Intended.' You would have perceived directly then how completely she was out of it. (Conrad 75) Here, Marlow fores... ...n of action either to become passive, or to deviate from their righteous ways. By analogy, the voyages of Kurtz and Marlowe, and the enterprise of discovery of colonization themselves, can be seen as essentially masculine acts. Such acts, always perpetrated, it seems, by white men, simply befall, happen to, passive peoples or cultures. As a result, these peoples are turned into the mere receivers of the actions - military, educational, sexual - of others, and are thus, to an extent, "feminized". In this way, the racist discourses of Conrad's times can be understood as connected to the assumptions by which women were, and still are, subjected to social and cultural oppression. Works Cited: Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Norton, 1988. Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa". In Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. New York: Doubleday, 1988.