She was so insignificant (Emecheta 7). In the Ibo culture that Adah grew up in, being agirl was looked down upon. Giving birth to a boy was a major accomplishment, whereasgiving birth to a girl was an equally major disappointment. Girls were taught to be useful,not intelligent: A year or two would do, as long as she can write her name and count.
Then she will learn to sew (Emecheta 9). In Ibo culture, girls were valued for theirdomestic abilities. Adah refused to be measured by this, instead she was determined to goto school and get an education. She worked had to overcome the sexist attitude that herThis sexist attitude continued after she got married to Francis.
Francis is a typicalIbo male. He held the view that the males should go and get educated and the femaleshould stay home, or in Francis case, work to support his education. Adah knew hisattitude, The sharpness seemed to say to her: It is allowed for African males to comeand get civilsed in England. But that privileged has not been extended to females yet(Emecheta 36). Francis is a pure reflection of the values held by the Ibos. All Franciswanted from Adah was money, to pay for his education, and sex: As far as he wasconcerned marriage was sex and lots of it, nothing more (Emecheta 41).
To Francis,Adah was a sexual object. As far as he was concerned, her feelings didnt matter, she wasnot a real person. Adah knew she was up against the enemy when she challenged Francis,but she was able to rise about he sexism and leave Francis. Not only does she go againsther own culture, but she wants her children to reject the sexist attitude as well: My sonswill learn to treat their wives as people (Emecheta 121).
Adah is a strong women whowill not let herself be objectified and will not let the sexism of her culture keep herdown. Adah would dislike the way that women are portrayed in Joseph Conrads Heart ofDarkness because women are treated as though they do not belong in the real world. Women are treated as objects instead of people with thoughts and feelings. It is thistreatment that Adah worked hard to overcome. In Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, Marlow, the narrator of most of the story,tell the story of his journey into the Congo searching for the lost ivory trader, Mr. Kurtz.
Throughout Marlows journey, he encounters different types of women. In his encounterswith his Aunt, the African women, and Mr. Kurtzs intended fiancee, Marlow shows hisdemeaning and sexist view of women. Marlow objectifies women depending on theirrace. The white European females are looked upon as domestic beings who should tendonly to their home worlds, while the only African women is portrayed as a sexual object.
It is this objectivity that causes Marlow to never reveal the truth about Mr. Kurtzs lifeThe first woman that we meet is Marlows aunt. She is the one paying for his tripto the Congo, yet Marlow does not respect her views. Marlow says, She talked aboutweaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways, till, upon my word, she mademe quite uncomfortable.
. . Its queer how out of touch with women are (Conrad 11). Inessence, Marlow is saying that women are out of touch with reality, even though it isclear that his Aunts views about Africans reflect the popular view of the time. That viewbeing to Christianize Africa and get rid of their traditional culture.
This view was held bythe likes of Rudyard Kipling, Leoplod II and other prominent men of the time. Marlowdoes not recognizes his Aunts views simply because she is a women and he doesntthink women belong in the real world. He says, They women live in a world of theirown, and there had never been anything like it, and never can be (Conrad 11). Marlowexpresses the fact that women live in sort of a alternate universe, that is that they are outof touch with reality.
Because of this, women have no place in the workings of society,that being in politics or social issues. Therefore, his Aunt is good enough to fundMarlows trip, but her usefulness stops with the money. She is treated as a money treeinstead of an individual with thoughts and views of her own. The only African women introduced in the novel is Kurtzs house maid. She islooked upon as a different sort of object, she is the object of sexual desire. She isdescribed with animalistic qualities by Marlow: She walked with measured steps,draped in striped and fringed clothes, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle andflash of barbarous ornaments (Conrad 55).
This description gives the image of a viciouscat walking across the ground with . . . measured steps. .
treading the earth. She is notphysically described with human qualities, but as more of an exotic beast-like creature. She also stirs up desire in Marlows heart, as he describes her presence: . . .
The colossalbody of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it hadbeen looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul (Conrad 56). Herpresence gives rise to the passion in Marlows soul as well. It is her mysterious qualitythat is so attractive. She is not viewed as a human, but as an object of sexual desirebecause she is exotic and mysterious. Marlow recalls the man of patches saying, If shehad offered to come aboard I really think I would have tried to shoot her (Conrad 56 ).
The fact that these men would be so quick to kill her shows that they dont view her as ahuman because they would never be so quick to kill a white women. Her sexuality isthreatening to the men, and it allows them to look at her as an object instead of a humanThe last women that Marlow encounters is Kurtzs intended fiancee, who issimply referred to as the Intended. She is first mentioned in Kurtzs jabbering. He says,Oh she is out of it- completely. They- the women I mean- are out of it- should be out ofit (Conrad 44).
Kurtz is saying that women are out of touch with the real world. Theyare not aware of what goes on outside their own world, and that is the way it should be. Women should not think about what goes on in the world. Kurtz tells Marlow, We musthelp them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worst (Conrad 44). In essence, Kurtz is instructing Marlow to keep his Intended in the dark about what isreally going on in the Congo.
The womens world is one that is ignorant to the harshrealities of life , such as the mad man that Kurtz has become. Kurtz does not want hisIntended to know what he has become because he might lose her and that would be likelosing a possession to him. Kurtz exclaims, My Intended, my ivory, my station, myriver, my-, everything belonged to him (Conrad 44). Kurtzs Intended is grouped withhis other possessions like ivory and his station. He sees her as a belonging instead of aIt is the objectification of Kurtzs Intended that in the end stops Marlow fromtelling the truth about Kurtzs death.
With Kutrzs Intended in mourning, Marlow tellsher, The last word he pronounced was- your name (Conrad 71). Marlow knowsKurtzs true last words, which were The horror! The horror! (Conrad 64), but hecould not bring himself to tell her the truth. By telling her Kurtzs true last words,Marlow would have place her into the real world and she would have had to face thoserealities. By keeping her in the dark, Marlow leaves her in her fantasy world where shewill never realize she is more that someones possession, she is an individual. Through the objectification of women in the Heart of Darkness, the true nature ofimperialism as displayed in Kurtz is never revealed to the world. Just as Marlow will notrecognize the views of women as individuals, the world will never recognize the trueBibliography: