Heart Of Darkness And The Secret Sharer Essays

Essay Joseph Conrad's The Secret Sharer

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Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer”

“ In order to live with direction and an understanding of what is going on around you, one must understand and know what goes on inside himself.” - William Page

In Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer”, the Captain of the vessel finds that he does not know himself as well as he thinks. It is not until a castaway, Leggatt, arrives that the captain finally achieves a level of self understanding and completion. Leggatt serves as the Captain’s complimenting double, and his actions and thoughts eventually help the captain learn about himself and create stronger character.

As the story opens, the young captain is standing out on the deck looking at the scenery as the ship pulls away. In the…show more content…

The closeness of this mysterious communication is emphasized from the very beginning of their relationship, first beginning with their clothes. The captain decides to give Leggatt one of his sleeping suits so his new friend can get out of his wet clothes. Leggatt “conceals his damp body in a sleeping suit of the same gray-stripe pattern as the one I (the captain) was wearing and followed me like my double on the poop (88).” This sleeping suit is symbolic of the connection between the two men. These suits, which both men wear help to illustrate how Leggatt is actually a reflection or double of the captain, both in the physical sense and the mental sense as well. The two men are somehow mysteriously intertwined, and Leggatt is in effect the captain’s “secret self.” The suits represent the place where the “dark self” and the self communicate. Their gray color further emphasizes the “gray area” where the conscious and subconscious meet. The suits are associated with sleeping and the night, and add to the dream-like effect of the captain's encounter with "the secret self."

As the story progresses, the two discuss the reasons as to why Leggatt was forced from his ship. He tells the story of a storm, of a command insolently disobeyed, and his

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The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad presents many themes throughout its complex narration of characters and the ideas it explicates through the novella. Amidst all the many themes that are presented there is one main theme that is thoroughly supported by Conrad in The Secret Sharer. The theme that is supported is, the ability that a person has, to change their moral and ethical beliefs due to their inexperience and self doubt as a leader. In the beginning the Captain is an upstanding, law abiding individual, yet his interaction with the murderer, and Leggatt, reveals him as someone who is insecure and easily malleable, this trait allows the captain to make many very illogical decisions, and in the end put his crew in harms way,…show more content…

As the captain broke the news, that he himself was taking anchor watch during the night the second mates replay was, "`what? The captain himself?' Then a few more murmurs, a door closed, then another." (pg 653)The crew does not understand his decision and immediately labels him almost idiotic, showing much suspicion in his actions. This opinion of the captain gives the crew an uneasy feeling around the new leading member of the ship, also causing the captain to obtain even more self doubt, and inevitably causing the irrational decision to stow a murderer on board.


The captains self doubt continues as he reflects upon his actions, and presumably lead up to the letting of Leggatt to board the ship. As the captain recalls his previous decision, he notes what his deck hands may have been thinking, making him even more vulnerable to an experienced sailors knowledge and input, distorting his decision making capabilities. "I asked myself whether it was wise ever to interfere with the established routine of duties even from the kindest of motives. My action might have made me appear eccentric. Goodness only knew how that absurdly whiskered mate would `account' fro my conduct, and what the whole ship thought of that informality of their new captain. I was vexed with myself."(pg 653) This thought and self doubt allows the captain to become preoccupied with his prior decision making. When he is confronted with the new


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