Personification In Heart Of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, there is a prevalence of feminist imagery. This imagery is used to critique the patriarchal society that the story takes place in. Some examples of this imagery include the use of women as symbols of innocence and purity, and the treatment of women as objects rather than people.

One example of this is the way that women are used as symbols of purity and innocence. For instance, when Marlow first sees Kurtz’s fiancée, he describes her as “an adorable little woman, with an absurdly small head, and a quantity of golden hair streaming down her back” (Conrad 95). This description paints her as a delicate and innocent creature, which is in stark contrast to the dark and dangerous world that she inhabits.

Another example of the way that women are used as objects is the way that they are often treated by the male characters in the story. For instance, Marlow refers to Kurtz’s fiancée as “an absurdly small head”, which implies that he does not view her as a person with her own thoughts and opinions. Additionally, when Marlow first sees her, he describes her as “golden hair streaming down her back”. This image portrays her as a object rather than a human being.

These examples illustrate how Joseph Conrad uses feminist imagery to critique the patriarchal society in Heart of Darkness. By using women as symbols of purity and innocence, and by portraying them as objects rather than people, Conrad reveals the way that women are often marginalized and ignored in this society.

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has been utilized by feminist critics to demonstrate how Marolw creates parallels and personification between women and the inanimate jungle he discusses. The jungle that houses the savages and “remarkable” Kurtz features many feminine qualities. It is the same feminized wilderness and darkness, according to Marlow, that caused Kurtz’s mental and physical collapse at the novel’s conclusion. Through a rhetoric of personification, the environment is feminized in Heart of Darkness.

One example of this is when Marlow speaks of “the stillness of the land that was brooding over an explosive peace” (Conrad 9). Conrad uses the word “brooding” which typically has a maternal connotation. In this excerpt, the land is portrayed as a protective mother figure who is nurturing and caring for her children, but also has the potential to unleash violence on them. This idea of a nurturing yet destructive mother figure is a recurring theme in feminist criticism of Heart of Darkness. Additionally, many critics have argued that Kurtz’s downfall can be partially attributed to his inability to properly deal with the powerful, feminine forces of the natural world.

Ultimately, Heart of Darkness can be seen as a story that explores the destructive power of patriarchy and the ways in which it can ultimately be harmful to both men and women. Conrad’s novel is an important contribution to feminist literature and offers a unique perspective on the role of women in society. By depicting the natural world as a powerful, female force, Conrad helps to challenge traditional gender roles and offer a more inclusive view of the world.

The landscape is built as an entity that speaks and acts, so it appears to be alive. The projection of a face on the scenery works through personification. “To the hidden evil, to the profound darkness of its heart” (48) is a reference to apocalyptic resignation, which fills Marlow with dread that “it regarded you with a vengeful eye” (49). Rather than being concerned about someone lurking in the woods, Marlow is afraid that it’s the forest itself that’s monitoring him.

Conrad writes, “. . . the land was watching me. It had opened its huge mouth and was swallowing me down” (71). The forest is not only alive, but it has a will of its own which is hostile to Marlow.

Similarly, the river is also imbued with agency. Conrad writes that the Congo River is “an immense snake uncoiling itself, rolling its dark folds in the brilliant sunshine, playing with its white foam-curls like a young girl with her pearls” (48). This comparison of the river to a young girl emphasizes its femininity and its potential danger. The river can be gentle and beautiful, but it can also be deadly. The imagery used to describe the river underscores the duality of femininity. It is both nurturing and destructive.

Marlow also encounters feminine imagery in Kurtz’s fiancée. She is described as “a clinging vine” (100) and as a “pretty little thing” (101). These descriptions emphasize her weakness and her vulnerability. She is not an active participant in the story; she is instead a passive figure who is acted upon by the men in her life.

Feminine imagery is used to convey a number of different ideas in Heart of Darkness. The landscape and the river are both depicted as being alive and having their own wills. The women in the story are all portrayed as being weak and vulnerable. Feminine imagery is used to create a sense of unease and danger. It underscores the instability of the world that Marlow inhabits.

The rhetorical personification of the environment brings life to the wilderness. This is what Marlow identifies as his source of anxiety when he travels in search of Kurtz. The significance of Kurtz’s downfall by the wilderness and Marlow’s ethic of restraint is emphasized above all by Marlow’s account of the “beautiful and wild apparition” of a native woman he sees from a steamer: She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringe cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbaric ornaments.

The beauty of her body and face seemed to bring delight to all the men, so that they exclaimed: “Look at that! Look at that!” (Conrad 9).

In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad uses femininity as a tool to represent the savagery of the jungle. The appearance of the woman is described in great detail and with heavy sexual undertones. She is not just a beautiful sight; she represents the other side of civilization, which is wild and seductive. Kurtz is undone by this woman, and Marlow is only able to watch from a distance. Conrad uses this image to show how even the most civilized men can be undone by their primal desires. The feminine ultimately represents everything that is dangerous and wild about the jungle, and it is this that ultimately destroys Kurtz.

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