Conrad, Joseph. “The Secret Sharer.” : Penguin Group, 1997.

The Secret Sharer written by Joseph Conrad, centers around a of a sea captain. Its title and opening paragraphs forecast a story of mystery, isolation, duality, darkness and silence. The novel proves true these predictions reveling thematic and image patterns directly proportional to them. The opening of the novel further reveals dialectics in the novel. The clash between the private and the public world or man versus society, in other words is the primary dialectic. The journey theme or the rite of passage theme also reveal themselves. We see a young and inexperienced captain grow and explore himself and the world around him, and in the process becoming a functional member of a society. The novella may be only fifty pages long but its words speak volumes.

Symbolism is used to express the Captains mindset as depressed, apprehensive, and insecure.

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Through this symbolism the Captain implied his insecurities with nature and his crew.

The archetypal elements found in the opening paragraphs and throughout the reveal the hidden meanings and intentions of the author. The «two small clumps of trees» which symbolize generative and degenerative processes, growth, proliferation, consistence and immortality, mark «the mouth of the river Meinam» which in turn symbolizes the rebirth, the flowing of time into eternity and the transitional phases of the life cycle, present the work in miniature. Also, the mouth of a river is where the salt water meets the fresh water symbolizing the place where the consciousness and the unconsciousness meet. The two trees are an exponent of duality a recurrent theme in the novel. They also reflect the secret partnership to be formed between Leggatt and the captain. Furthermore, the green color of the trees symbolizes growth touching upon the theme of the rite of passage. The captain comes into the sea, an archetypal symbol of spiritual mystery and infinity, death and rebirth, timelessness and eternity, and the unconscious. This marks a beginning of a journey into the unknown for the captain. The sun shining overhead symbolized the law of nature, the energy, and the consciousness. The ship can therefore be seen as in a balance between unconsciousness and consciousness. The blue color of the sea symbolizes a positive side, truth and spiritual purity. The land that the captain left behind symbolizes the mother. Further more adding to the growth of the captain.


The secret sharer critical analysis. Literature Criticism

The pattern of mysteriousness seen in the opening paragraphs of the novel continues to appear throughout it. From the first sentence «a mysterious system of half submerged bamboo fence» the theme is established. Even from the title one can assume a theme of secrecy which directly implies mysteriousness. Furthermore the crew does not know their captain, and the captain does not know his crew. This fact adds to the mystery, especially after the mysterious and strange order not to have a night watch given by the captain. In addition, the names of the ship and the captain are withheld establishing a sense of mystery. The meeting of Leggatt adds yet another mystery. «Mysterious shades of night» progress to «mysterious communication» established between the narrator and Leggatt who «mysteriously» emerged from the sea. Also, the captain's action of hiding Leggatt brings more mystery to the crew. Likewise, Captain Archbold saw in the narrator, «a mysterious similitude to the young fellow he had distrusted and disliked from the first.» The character of Leggatt is mysterious in itself. The reader is never fully understands the true nature of Leggatt's actions. Also, the past lives of all characters in the novel are never mentioned or considered.

The Secret Sharer written by Joseph Conrad, ..

We should have been forewarned aboutthe dangers Leggatt would present. Brittany Nelson explains the significance of the scorpion which causedthe chief mate such consternation. Thescorpion symbolizes the future intrusion of Leggatt on the ship: It can be said of both of them that “they aredangerous, they come from places that are far removed from the boat, and theyhide in cabins” (Nelson). Conrad exposesthe kind of schemes we create to hide our secrets and our vices. The rationalizations, etc., are reflected inthe captain’s constant worrying about possible discovery.

The secret sharer critical analysis .

At the end of the film, Hawthorne left us a quote saying, “Be true, be true, be true.” Hawthorne is trying to say keeping secrets isn't always the best because it only leads to someone getting hurt.