Heart of Darkness

“She came forward, all in black, with a pale head, floating towards me in the dusk. She was in mourning… She had a mature capacity for fidelity, for belief, for suffering. The room seemed to have grown darker, as if all the sad light of the cloudy evening had taken refudge on her forehead. This fair hair, this pale visage, this pure brow, seemed surrounded by an ashy halo from which the dark eyes looked out at me. Their glance was guileless, profound, confident, and trustful.” (pg. 152-153)

Conrad’s description of Kurtz’s fiancĂ©e is interesting. I think that including the sentence, “she was in mourning” was not necessary only because the rest of the passage clearly dictates that she is, indeed in mourning. Her “mature capacity for fidelity, belief, suffering” all seem to fall under the impression of a passive woman. The first and only real description that the reader gets of this woman is that she has the capacity to mourn. Not that I believe Conrad, or Marlow necessarily, thinks of women in that way, but the narrative description leaves that impression on me. The words describing her also remind me of a ghost. She “floated” towards Marlow, with her “fair hair”, “pale visage”, “ashy halo”. She seems to have died with him?

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