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IX- Women in HD. 
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Post IX- Women in HD.
IX- Women in HD.


"Heart of Darkness is also criticized for its characterization of women. In the novel, Marlow says that "It's queer how out of touch with truth women are." Marlow also suggests that women have to be sheltered from the truth in order to keep their own fantasy world from "shattering before the first sunset."
Wikipedia.

There are very few women in HD.

How does their portrayal strike you?

Do you agree that there are grounds for criticizm here?


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Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:49 pm
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I didn't miss them - dialogue and the doings of women would have been distracting.

Being one of the creatures myself (women), I don't think there was any real place to write about them.

Had the author been writing omnisciently - with the all knowing of all things and persons - the women could have been given more of a role.

He could have gotten into the thoughts of the women on the land, the native women, the thoughts of the aunt, the thoughts and dialogue with the fiance at home.

But that would have taken away from the excitement of the story's expedition.

And it would have been a bigger book.



Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:22 pm
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I know only two other works by Conrad, Lord Jim and a good short story called "The Secret Sharer." I can recall no women characters in either (though there probably were a few minor ones), and it seems to be the case that Conrad's interest was in stories about men! I might be criticized on this score, but I don't think this issue compares to that of Conrad's view on race in HD. He basically neglects to draw dimensional female characters and has a few chauvinistic things to say about women. But his views on race are at the center of HD and really matter, the way I see it, to its thematic integrity. I'm not so concerned about a writer's social views in themselves. As long as they're not extreme and distasteful, they aren't the most important things about the quality of the work.

Will



Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:56 pm
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Conrad's portrayal of the women in Heart of Darkness is sketchy at best. When he says anything at all, he seems to reflect the chauvinistic attitudes that were probably fairly typical for the time and place.

As someone else has noted, Conrad seems most interested in telling tales of men and ships.

We must also remember that this work is essentially a long short story. I suppose it could be a called a novella, but the brevity of such a work makes it difficult for any author to present too many characters in depth.

George


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Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:20 pm
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I was appauled at the end when Mallory lied to the young woman who said Kurtz was the love of her life.

I could not visualise Kurtz......well, I could, but could not be convinced of his being such an influential character.

This young woman asked what his (Kurtz) last words were and we know that his last words were of horror. Mallory told the young woman that Kurtz last words were her name. It was to spare her feelings. But this young woman imagined herself to be deeply in love and never thought she would love another. If she had been told the truth, or that his words were incoherent, at least she would have had a chance to come to terms with his death and get over it.

I thought this showed lack of wisdom on Mallory's (Conrad's) part. He would not have needed to tell her about the native woman on the island, but he did not need to have embroidered the facts.

This picture of these two women holding out their arms in grief for this cruel and unworthy man convinces me that Conrad did not know women at all and therefore is wise not to try to write about women.



Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:51 pm
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Sorry - why did I type Mallory and not Marlow!!!!!

On page 57 in my Penguin Classics copy - Marlow states:-

You know I hate, detest can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest but because in appals me........it makes me miserable and sick like biting something rotten would do...

I think this is why I felt so let down when he told the lie to Kurtz's fiancee at the end of the book.



Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:18 pm
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Penelope wrote:
I was appalled at the end when Marlowe lied to the young woman who said Kurtz was the love of her life. I could not visualise Kurtz......well, I could, but could not be convinced of his being such an influential character. This young woman asked what his (Kurtz) last words were and we know that his last words were of horror. Marlowe told the young woman that Kurtz last words were her name. It was to spare her feelings. But this young woman imagined herself to be deeply in love and never thought she would love another. If she had been told the truth, or that his words were incoherent, at least she would have had a chance to come to terms with his death and get over it. I thought this showed lack of wisdom on Marlowe's (Conrad's) part. He would not have needed to tell her about the native woman on the island, but he did not need to have embroidered the facts. This picture of these two women holding out their arms in grief for this cruel and unworthy man convinces me that Conrad did not know women at all and therefore is wise not to try to write about women.


Hi Penelope: this reminded me of Edward Said's comments, I think in Orientalism, about Mansfield Park and the systematic duping of Victorian women about the reality of the plantation slave trade which bought their frocks. Conrad is pointing out that European genteel women were protected from the reality of the Africa project. Marlowe tells a sentimental lie to preserve the myth that Kurtz is somehow normal, though he fully knows Kurtz went crazy with rapacious destruction. This is a parable for the broader problem of colonial lies



Sun Feb 17, 2008 6:04 am
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Post women in hearts of darkness
i think george and wild city woman said it best. it would have distracted from the story.

The idea of a woman on such and adventure during this period of history doesn't sound plausible. Also, a woman would have been the wrong character to play someone so clueless about the true nature of kurtz



Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:18 pm
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ginof said:-

The idea of a woman on such and adventure during this period of history doesn't sound plausible. Also, a woman would have been the wrong character to play someone so clueless about the true nature of kurtz

Yet at this period of history - there was Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Fry - working against inhumanity to man......because...(not in spite of)....the fact that they were women.



Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:43 pm
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Post hi penelope
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The idea of a woman on such and adventure during this period of history doesn't sound plausible


actually, i think we are saying similar things: I don't think it was plausible, not because the women were not capable, but because they were being oppressed.

if you look at who the explorers of the time actually were, they were men. Why is that? A trip took resources. Who would have given $$ or other support to a trip led by women? The 'frail constitution' argument and other falacies would have not allowed it. Fry and Nightingale got $$ because they did things 'fitting' of a woman.

IMO, to introduce the topic into such a short book would have distracted from the main themes, which are the conflicts the protagonist faces.



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Post Re: hi penelope
George Ricker wrote:
Conrad seems most interested in telling tales of men and ships.


I don't agree



Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:23 am
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I do see what you mean, but do you remember the two women at the very beginning of book. At the offices where he went to be designated his ship? One was knitting if I remember correctly.

What were they about? Can anyone enlighten me? I feel as though I missed something there.......



Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:16 am
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Penelope wrote:
I do see what you mean, but do you remember the two women at the very beginning of book. At the offices where he went to be designated his ship? One was knitting if I remember correctly. What were they about? Can anyone enlighten me? I feel as though I missed something there.......

Hi again Penelope, these two women and the secretary (pp15-16) remind me of the Greek Fates. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moirae describes the three Moirae: Clotho spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle; Lachesis measured the thread of life with her rod; Atropos was the cutter of the thread of life. "The compassionate secretary, who, full of desolation and sympathy, made me sign some document" while "in the outer room the two women knitted black wool feverishly." Marlowe says "She seemed to know all about them and about me too. An eerie feeling came over me. She seemed uncanny and fateful. ... Morituri te salutant." This last is the motto of gladiators before Caesar. The cheery and foolish faces off to the Congo are compared to modern gladiators. The Fates measure their thread, and cut off the life with a contract.
It also had me thinking of Perseus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseus#Ov ... the_Gorgon explains how he went to the Graea, sisters of the Gorgons, to find the way. The Perseus archetype has been a basis for major stories, notably Peter Pan and The Matrix, and it is interesting to compare Kurtz with Medusa.



Mon Feb 18, 2008 8:03 pm
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Please miss, Robert said:-

Moirae: Clotho spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle; Lachesis measured the thread of life with her rod; Atropos was the cutter of the thread of life.

Ooooh Thank you Robert - for that explanation. How fabulous!!! I am going back to read it all again.

I am so glad you are joining in this discussion.....don't go away will you!!



Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:00 am
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I agree Penelope, very interesting input from Robert!


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