Portrayal of Women in 'Frankenstein' and 'Heart of Darkness' (Essay Sample)
Frankenstein/Heart of Darkness Comparison/Contrast Essay
“What is the role of women as presented in these works?”
All three examples above serve as first steps to the larger world of literary theory and criticism. Writing prompts like this ask you to examine a work from a particular perspective. You may not be comfortable with this new perspective. Chances are that since your instructor has given you such an assignment, the issues in question will be at least partially covered in class.
Choose a pattern to organize your essay. The two major patterns for organizing a comparison/contrast essay are:
Subject by Subject (Whole-to-Whole). Write first about one of your subjects, covering it completely, and then you write about the other, covering it completely. Each subject is addressed in a separate paragraph. The points of comparison or contrast should be the same for each subject and should be presented in the same order.
Point by Point. Each point is addressed in a separate paragraph. Discuss both of your subjects together for each point of comparison and contrast. Maintain consistency by discussing the same subject first for each point.
A works cited list must accompany your paper, listing all sources cited in your essay. You are also encouraged to cite in your paper any of the critical articles we read in class, as these essays offer excellent insight into and analysis of many of the issues we will be writing about, but be sure to use correct MLA format. Begin the entry in A separate works-cited page and end it with a designation of the medium of publication.
Women in 'Frankenstein' and 'Heart of Darkness': Gendered Silence Shaping Narrative Development
Post-colonial literature has always embedded contemporary politics incorporating various thematic-schemas in its narrative structure, such as individuality, inequality, obsession, alienation and a sense of consciousness. Post-colonial narrative delineates the construction of “other” — the space, constructed by Imperial and Colonial hegemony, where politically marginalized characters find refuge CITATION Spivak \l 1033 (Spivak). In these narratives, women, once the object of the hegemonic gaze, find an alternative/subaltern space as being existentially “other”. Hence, this essay will try to describe how Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, written at the threshold of the 19th century and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, written at the end of 19th century, exploit post-colonial literary symptoms for the production of this “other” and place female characters in that domain to give them a narrative voice, a narrative presence. In doing so, as the essay further argues, these narratives often dissolve the dichotomy of socially constructed male / female conjecture.
Women of Victorian England, historically documented as contented in household activities, were the influence behind Conrad’s female characters. Thus, Conrad never allowed his female characters to come to the center of the plot CITATION BIS09 \p 154 \l 1033 (Biswas 154). This is exactly the same for Heart of Darkness where sketchy and almost under-developed women protagonists always take the back-seat without having any role to play in the colonial exercises. They are nameless, they are often mute, they are ignored of their subjective presence and known to us through their relation to men; thus, they are only Marlow’s old aunt, Kurtz’s Intended and Kurtz’s African Mistress.
Though Conrad’s own journey into the Congo has supplied the inspiration behind the central theme of the novel, no black African character is illustrated in the text except Kurtz’s African Mistress. This nameless character, despite made subservient to the white European Kurtz, is the lone native protagonist in the entire text whom Marlow describes as “a wild and gorgeous apparition” CITATION Con01 \p 86 \l 1033 (Conrad 86). The term ‘apparition’ connotes African wilderness embodied in the character through her overt expressions of oppressed emotion and tormented identity. The way Marlow experiences her beauty with a mixed feeling of wonder and awe makes the character metaphorically represent the wild Amazonian stereotype. The African Mistress allures Kurtz and despite his European sophistication, she ruined him in the same way as desire for ivory ruins the life of an explorer traveling through the unknown land.
However, a close observation of Conrad’s women character delineation contributes deeper insights to understand the central characters of the text, namely Marlow and Kurtz. The European females, Marlow’s old aunt and Kurtz’s Intended, though differ by age share similar kind of vague and lofty ideals about colonialism. Marl...
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