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"Then—would you believe it?—I tried the women. I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work—to get a job. Heavens! Well, you see, the notion drove me. I had an aunt, a dear enthusiastic soul. She wrote: 'It will be delightful. I am ready to do anything, anything for you. It's a glorious idea. I know the wife of a very high personage in the Administration, and also a man who has lots of influence with,' etc. She was determined to make no end of fuss to get me appointed skipper of a river steamboat, if such was my fancy." (1.20)
Look at that—only twenty paragraphs into the book, and we've already met a powerful woman. Sure, she only has power because she knows powerful men, or powerful men's wives, but it still counts, right?
"It's queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. It's too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over." (1.28)
Marlow thinks that women are naïve and idealistic, believing in fantastic and utopian worlds that would never work in the reality he knows. Dummies. (Okay, but he's secretly totes jealous.)
"Girl! What? Did I mention a girl? Oh, she's out of it - completely. They - the women, I mean - are out of it - should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse." (2.29)
At the first mention of the Intended, Marlow scoots back to his opinion of women as completely out of touch with reality. But their fantastic visions of world peace are so touching and beautiful that he does not want to disillusion them with the ugly truth, since they probably couldn't handle it.