"Desolate Exclamations": Women as the Embodiment of Nature in Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

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Since its first publication in Blackwood's Magazine in 1899, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness has been extensively analyzed by scholars. Until recently, however, there has been little critical discussion of the novel's principal female characters, the African woman and the Intended. The brief passages describing the narrator's encounters with the women reveal similar qualities. Conrad's meticulous details of the Intended and of the African woman in their contrasting surroundings indicate that both women are not seen as whole persons, but rather they form a part of nature. By closely examining the text, it is evident that Conrad frequently uses identical or analogous terms to depict the Intended and the African woman. Although they assume secondary roles in the novel, the symbolic functions of the two women have been examined by feminist and non-feminist scholars. It is crucial to delve further into this topic in order to expose how closely linked the African woman and the Intended are to one another. This has not been thoroughly explored by previous researchers and I believe it is necessary in comprehending a different aspect of the women and the novel as a whole. After evaluating many articles on the women, it is apparent that the authors perceive the Intended and the African woman as symbolic polar opposites. In contrast, I propose that the African woman and the Intended are indisputably linked in Conrad's depiction of the women and in their relation to the African wilderness.


Warren Montag




Ford Research Fellowship

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