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Word Count: 1,860
On first reading Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness appears to summarise the attitudes of the Europeans and in particular the English at the turn of the century The central narrator and character of the text Marlow presents his views on the issues of race and gender in a manner which grates against the readers modern ears However Conrad does suggest that he does not share the point of view of his character Marlow and in doing so is able to present a post-colonial critique of the ideology of his time and in particular racism and sexism The focus of the story an exploration into the mysterious and dangerous African continent certainly provides an adequate stage for sexist views as it implies bravery and ruggedness both supposedly exclusively male qualities Indeed all of the explorers representatives of the ambiguously named Company are male and the one female referred to is a native savage and therefore doubly inferior at least in the eyes of the white men including Marlow The main narrator and character first shows his attitude towards women when commenting incredulously on the fact that he uses his aunts influence to obtain employment Set women to work Charlie Marlow As is so often the case he does not intentionally discriminate against women or directly insult them it is his reluctance to receive help from a female which indicates his sexist attitude He like other men around his time has a fixed idea about the role of females in society the fact that his aunt does not quite fit this mould bothers even threatens him and makes him ashamed of his inability to find a job for himself Marlow also views women as innocent happy creatures patronisingly calling his aunt an excellent woman and describing her manner of speech as bright After speaking with her he enlightens the gathered men on the boat with the statement Its queer how out
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