Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Taking the Voice from the Darkness: Silence & Power in Heart of Darkness

Presenter Information

Jillian BennionFollow

Class

Article

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Joyce Kinkaid

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

In Heart of Darkness, "women are "nearly invisible" in the narration of Joseph Conrad's protagonist, Charlie Marlow (McIntire 330). They are invisible because they are left out of much of the discourse. The role of discourse in Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness brings to light the inequity of the women of this novella. I will explore the polemic of power and presence of the women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to illustrate how women have no identity (of their own) outside the one imposed on them through the discourse of men. This discourse is influenced by what Laura Mulvey terms the "male gaze," and serves only the purpose of perpetuating male archetypes through "keeping them out of it" (Conrad 63). In Marlow's narrative, women are placed in stationary positions that lock them in an inherent power differential. The women's immobility through their silence speaks to the argument that the women have no chance of equality if there is no commensurable mobility. The "male gaze" is the lack of female perspective and the necessity of women to take on the view of men by use of camera angles in conjunction with societal pressure women have to conform to in the visual pleasures of men (Mulvey 1173-75). Because women do not have their own perspective of art: film, novels, paintings, they are, with Heart of Darkness, forced to keep women silenced and "at the same time...remain invisible because so few critics have chosen to examine their roles", while they are also kept out of the text through non-representation. The "male gaze" ultimately, forces women readers to silence the eight women of this text through their blindness to the truth of their incommensurability.

Start Date

4-9-2015 11:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 11:00 AM

Taking the Voice from the Darkness: Silence & Power in Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, "women are "nearly invisible" in the narration of Joseph Conrad's protagonist, Charlie Marlow (McIntire 330). They are invisible because they are left out of much of the discourse. The role of discourse in Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness brings to light the inequity of the women of this novella. I will explore the polemic of power and presence of the women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to illustrate how women have no identity (of their own) outside the one imposed on them through the discourse of men. This discourse is influenced by what Laura Mulvey terms the "male gaze," and serves only the purpose of perpetuating male archetypes through "keeping them out of it" (Conrad 63). In Marlow's narrative, women are placed in stationary positions that lock them in an inherent power differential. The women's immobility through their silence speaks to the argument that the women have no chance of equality if there is no commensurable mobility. The "male gaze" is the lack of female perspective and the necessity of women to take on the view of men by use of camera angles in conjunction with societal pressure women have to conform to in the visual pleasures of men (Mulvey 1173-75). Because women do not have their own perspective of art: film, novels, paintings, they are, with Heart of Darkness, forced to keep women silenced and "at the same time...remain invisible because so few critics have chosen to examine their roles", while they are also kept out of the text through non-representation. The "male gaze" ultimately, forces women readers to silence the eight women of this text through their blindness to the truth of their incommensurability.