Women’s role in the Society as Decoration in the Eyes of the Early Men
Question: Marlow says women `live in a world of their own,` a beautiful yet impossible realm `out of touch with truth.` Compare the intended and the black woman who confronts the steamboat, discussing the ways in which both women worship Kurtz and protect his image from the intrusion of truth.
When do we say that a woman was indeed a woman? People have dubbed women as decoration ever since. Long before the present generation was in this world, women were considered as either second class citizen or nothing at all. The women’s worth was never established during those eras thus they kept on being stereotyped as decorations and people with their own worlds.
Known to many people all over the world, women despite of being beautiful and intelligent in her own ways does not actually belong to the higher society nor does she accept any rightful position that she deserves. Women remain undeniably outcast in the world where men are the highest officials and women become their slaves. We cannot deny it that although those years, women remain as decorations for men wherein they are used as symbol of either wealth or popularity. The more jewelries and elegant gowns a woman owns, the richer her family or her husband is.
In Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, he did not give enough emphasis the role of women thus in the character of the protagonist named Marlow, he does not look up at women as anyone higher than his kind. The protagonist views his aunt as a very idealistic person thus she does not see any of reality that there is in front of her. At the same time, she remains to live in a world apart from those of the men around her. In this novella, she used women as a symbol for home thus he associated women as either a decoration or perhaps his idea of home wherein ideas are derived from books and religion unlike in men where they find their learning and knowledge and experience.
Among the women in the novella, two were the most celebrated or talked about. It was not because they gave a not so ordinary realization or impact in the story but because they were used as symbolism of either wealth or reality. Joseph Conrad’s use of the Intended and the Mistress as Kurtz’s women does not simply tells the people that women are immoral or low class but he used this women to view two different personalities of the same time.
Although the story also talked more about racism and the savages or the cannibals, this issue still has something to do with the women in Kurtz’s life. These women were far different from each other. While the Intended was a white woman of good nature thus an example of a wealthy woman of the European continent, exhibiting beauty but at the same time, she was stereotyped as the decoration; the mistress was an African who most likely influenced Kurtz in some ways. Although it was not completely justified that she was a lot better than the Intended, it will be easy to understand that she was perhaps a lot stronger and courageous as she face Kurtz when he was already in the steamboat and shouted at him.
Perhaps we will not understand why Kurtz drew a blindfolded woman but as we continue to read the paper, we will find out that Kurtz does not give women high regard and like Marlow, he looks at women as decorations with their own world as he kept on giving his Intended with jewelries and accessories to show off his wealth. It was the same thing that he did to his mistress as seen by Marlow. The Mistress’ ornaments and clothes shows that she was indeed given a privilege but not necessarily for herself but for Kurtz to show to the people around him that he is influential and rich.
Despite of the idea that women were not regard as the first person in the early Europe, they still possess great power in dealing with other people thus it was actually supported by the actuations of the mistress. Even if Marlow regards them as living in a fantasy world, for Kurtz, his relationship with the Mistress was intended to make other see that a black and white union is possible in no cost at all. Thus this leads to the issue of racism which Kurtz gives so much care of despite of his unusual behavior and unpredictable case.
Summing up everything we talked about in our discussion in this paper, we must point out that Marlow’s impression of women as an economic object was indeed true during his time. Women though represents civilization as stated also represents the economic stability of a man. The common thing about the mistress and the intended is the fact that both were lavished with jewelries and material goods to show off Kurtz’s wealth thus it only strengthens the idea that women not treated as commodity unlike in other era but treated as decoration.
Despite of using women and characterizing her as decoration, Conrad had to admit in the character of Marlow that he was indeed moved by the characteristics and traits of a woman being someone who is mature enough to be capable of handling fidelity and suffering all at once.
The Intended and the Mistress’ impression of Kurtz was that of a loving wife who is kind enough to sacrifice everything for the love they have. Their knowledge of Kurtz will remain in their hearts thus they look up onto him as a person with high regard. While the Intended believes that Kurtz was hers until his death, the Mistress believed that despite of their color, Kurtz loved him enough to mourn for him. Their outlook on Kurtz does not differ from one another except that they believed in different things.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. 1902. J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.