Heart of Dark Ness

Former student

Focus/specific textual phenomenon/sign for analysis:

Marlow’s negative comments about women in Heart of Darkness.   On the Nellie, Marlow tells the other men the story of how he attained his job with the Company. Marlow had asked his aunt for help in getting a job but will not admit that it was her doing that secured the position for him. He tells the other sailors that “the men said, ‘My dear fellow,’ and did nothing. Then—would you believe it?—I tried the women. I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work—to get a job.” He seems to believe that women were put on Earth merely to help men. Then he brags to the others about how his aunt writes him a letter saying, “I am ready to do anything, anything for you” and that “she was determined to make no end of fuss to get [him] appointed skipper of a river steamboat, if such was [his] fancy” (2308). Later, after he secures the job, he says that “[he] had been represented . . . as an exceptional and gifted creature—a piece of good fortune for the Company—a man you don’t get hold of every day” (2311). He acts very arrogant and is not at all grateful for his aunt’s help.

Solid identification and illustration of the focus under analysis.


1. Marlow seems jealous of her power and acts self-important to impress the other men.

Here, you skimp on interpretation. Your task now is to persuade your reader about the meanings of the focus in this particular part of the book. In short, you need to make an argument as to WHY you think Marlowe seems so ungrateful to his aunt. You gesture toward a response, but this is the part of the analytical writing process that you need to EMPHASIZE most—not downplay into one sentence. I think you’re on to something when you suggest Marlowe’s jealousy of his aunt’s power, but this needs to be unpacked. Why do you think he feels jealous? To answer that question in depth, you’re going to have to do some thinking (and reading) about gender assumptions at the...