"The Secret Sharer" by Joseph Conrad, Critical Analysis

Essay by Igor PevacHigh School, 12th gradeB+, December 1996

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The Secret Sharer written by Joseph Conrad, centers around a character 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.

The first indication of a course that a novel may take is its title. The three little words contained in the title give rise to many interpretations.

An image generated by the title could be that of a gossip. Since a gossip is someone who tells people's secrets, or in other words is a secret sharer if the word secret is taken for a noun, it is a possibility that this image might come to mind. Another image is that of a person who shares in secrecy, therefore becoming a secret sharer, if the word secret is taken for an adjective. This could be an image of a miser, who generally does not share his wealth, but does so only in secrecy. A secret sharer could also be an imaginary friend. It would be a person who is secretive, and you share your thoughts with them. A Biblical interpretation of the secret sharer could be that of the snake in the garden of Eden. Since the snake shares the ultimate secret...