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Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad

Women and Femininity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"And from right to left along the lighted shore moved a wild and gorgeous apparition of a woman." (3.13)

The fact that the woman is described as an "apparition" makes us think that Marlow isn't quite sure this woman even belongs in the same category as white women. You know how he's all chivalrous and protective of the Intended? We're pretty sure he doesn't feel the same way about this lady.

Quote #5

"She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre things, charms, gifts of witch-men, that hung about her, glittered and trembled at every step." (3.14)

Woman or warrior? She walks regally and fearlessly, her hair is "done in the shape of a helmet," and she wears protective brass coverings. She's basically the opposite of the soft, fragile Intended—but does she serve the same purpose for the Africans? She seems to be a rallying symbol for the Africans just like the blonde European women are for Marlow.

Quote #6

"She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre things, charms, gifts of witch-men, that hung about her, glittered and trembled at every step. She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her." (3.14)

Notice how Marlow describes this warrior woman's magnificent brass ornaments in terms of their value? We did, too, and we're thinking this isn't much different from judging European women based on the value of their ornaments.

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