The Character of Leggatt in The Secret Sharer Essay

The Character of Leggatt in The Secret Sharer Essay

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The Character of Leggatt in The Secret Sharer 

    This essay examines Leggatt as an independent person, rather than as a symbol connected to the captain-narrator, a view shared by many critics.  Leggatt is not a negative influence on the captain per se.  From an objective point of view, it can be seen that Leggatt's portrayal depends entirely on how the captain (as narrator) perceives him, and that he deserves to be treated as the individual being that he is.


            Many of Conrad's critics, most notably Albert J. Guerard , Robert W. Stallmann , have taken the view that Leggatt, of the novella "The Secret Sharer," is either some sort of symbol of the captain's dark side, a kind of role model for the captain, or that he is part of the captain.  In this essay I will first examine the captain's portrayal of Leggatt, then argue that Leggatt is none of these, rather, he is a complete person in and of himself, and not simply part of the captain's personality deficiencies.

            At first glance it would seem that Leggatt is either the antagonist or provides a criminal influence on the captain.  By no means are Leggatt's decisions and actions exemplary.  Murdering mutinous crew members is hardly an acceptable practice, and avoiding justice, and one's punishment-all of which Leggatt do-only worsen the issue.  The captain claims that in swimming to the island Koh-ring, his double had "lowered himself into the water to take his punishment"  (Conrad 193).  However, as Cedric Watts argues, this is only true because Leggatt, by escaping justice, will face an uncertain future marooned on an island  (134).  In reality, Leggatt is doing the opposite; he is lowering himself into the water to escape from the law, ...

... middle of paper ... free as he can be while fleeing from the law.


Works Cited:

Baines, Jocelyn.  Joseph Conrad:  A Critical Biography.  London:  Weidenfeld and        Nicolson, 1959.

Batchelor, John.  The Life of Joseph Conrad:  A Critical Biography.  Oxford:  Blackwell            Publishers, 1994.

Burgess, Chester Francis.  The Fellowship of the Craft:  Conrad on Ships and Seamen and        the Sea.  New York:  National University Publications, 1976.

Conrad, Joseph.  Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer.  New York:  Bantam Books,         1981.

Graver, Lawrence.  Conrad's Short Fiction.  Berkeley:  University of California Press,   1969.

Karl, Frederick Robert.  Joseph Conrad:  The Three Lives.  New York:  Farrar, Straus,            and Giroux, 1979.

Watts, Cedric.  A Preface to Conrad.  2nd ed.  New York:  Longman Publishing, 1993.



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