Comparing Conrad's The Secret Sharer and Heart of Darkness

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Similarities in Conrad's The Secret Sharer and Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad's books, The Secret Sharer and Heart of Darkness, both

deal with each of our "dark selves". These books also have similarities

which are overwhelming. In describing the true inner self of humans,

Conrad used many symbols which have become apparent in many of his novels.

Conrad uses the same or very similar objects in many of his works.

Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness in 1899 to recount his

voyages in the Congo. Conrad hid most of his meaning in his words using a

form of writing known as "stream of consciousness". This made it difficult

for people to find the true meaning of his work. After about ten years,

Conrad realized that he would have to get his point across in an easier to

understand book. This book was The Secret Sharer.

Both of these books include the hero wanting to meet or developing

a fascination for a truly evil character. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow is

very eager to meet Kurtz. Marlow is so eager, in fact, that he eventually

starts to panic when he thinks he will never meet him. Marlow realizes

that Kurtz is a very evil person, but this does not stop him from wanting

to meet this incredibly remarkable person. In The Secret Sharer the

Captain saves a murderer from almost certain death without knowing what the

man has done. Later, The Captain has a discussion with the man and finds

out his name is Leggatt. Leggatt tells his story and the Captain becomes

more enthralled with Leggatt ever so more. When Leggatt tells the Captain

he has committed a murder, the Captain does not throw him overboard.

Instead, the Captain harbors this criminal because he feels a connection

with Leggatt that he has never felt before. In both stories the hero

identifies with his evil counterpart to the point that they actually become

one in their own minds. Conrad wanted to show the evil that exists within

all of us.

The bulk of Conrad's stories deal with sea voyages because of his

extensive sailing as a young man. The ship in his writing can be thought

of as symbolizing the journey through life, a vessel of sorts.

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