The Representation of Women in Heart of Darkness

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In the novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad the main character, Marlow encounters women when most needed in the book. When meeting other imperialists, such as Kurtz, who only cares about himself and his riches, Marlow gains hope as to become like these men, well respected explorers and imperialists. One early critic of the novel, Edward Garnett, wrote in his review that [Heart of Darkness] is simply a Women are viewed by Marlow as ignorant little creatures above the press of imperialism”completely innocent, but entirely unaware.

Heart of Darkness makes readers aware of the perceptions of women in the late 1800s, early 1900s. The main descriptions are that women are naive and should be kept that way, purely sexual objects, or rich by their husbands. The naive one is Kurtz intended. While she is only in a relatively small amount of the book, she is portrayed as naive and Marlow feels the need to keep her that way. He does this as if to protect her. We dont even know enough about this character to understand Marlowr’s decision to lie to her is even necessary or not.

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The women who is personified as the sex object is none other than Kurtz mistress. She is beautiful and is covered in ivory, making her seem powerful and mysterious. Her entire purpose as a character in the book is to show how Kurtz is unable to control his lusts. The fact that he has a mistress and an intended shows that Kurtz thinks the intended is naive enough to think hell wait for her until he gets back.

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