The novel is, admittedly, a text with many racist, imperialist and sexist distinct themes. Conrad’s narrator, protagonist, major and minor characters are all European men, and the women who exist within the novella are not even given names. The women in Heart of Darkness could easily be overlooked, they are vitally important. In Marlow’s perspective, Kurtz’s fiancee personifies the ‘civilised’ woman who is white as pure, innocent, beautiful, European and upper middle class, so in many senses of the word ‘white’. The two women, the fiancee and the mistress, are vital as symbols of colonialism, because they account for the racism and ideals in the imperialist agendas demonstrated by the white, masculinity of Kurtz and Marlow. The strange ambiguity and ambivalence which the Mistress and the Intended possess, Padmini Mongia believes this to be the fact that the Intended is a weak and innocent figure for her Victorian female position, whereas the Mistress is representative of a dark and powerful alter-ego of femininity which needs to be suppressed and contained.  The two women are used as opposites by Conrad to reinforce the colonial project (imperialism), because the Mistress is an African woman, therefore is not-white and ‘not-civilised’, who thus serves as a foil to the Intended, who as her opposite, is not black and not a savage. Ellen Rooney cites Conrad’s description of women as the ‘masculine narrative of femininity’ which uses ‘stereotypes of women’ to confirm ‘patriarchy’s many stories’ about femininity and masculinity(73). Therefore, the Intended could be viewed as the embodiment of what men, on their imperial mission, are fighting to protect (white women), just as the Mistress is the representative of what the colonisers on their mission are trying to suppress (black women).  Furthermore, the women are not just used as symbol, but their humanity and existence, according to Mongia, is something which, in the example of the Mistress, feel they need to conquer because of what she represents. 

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