The Secret Sharer Critical Overview
by Joseph Conrad

The Secret Sharer book cover
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Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

"The Secret Sharer" is considered one of Conrad's best works. It was written in two weeks, nearly ten years after Conrad's most famous work, Heart of Darkness. This story is based on a true incident that happened aboard the Cutty Sark in 1880. Critics view the story as typical of Conrad, the theme of self-discovery, the psychological depth of character, precise and evocative details. Like Conrad's other works, the story is largely a psychological portrait and is semi-autobiographical. Critics have differed greatly in their interpretations of specific details and actions in "The Secret Sharer," some interpreting Leggatt as symbolizing a "dark side" of human nature, others focusing on the story as a rite of passage. Ultimately, most critics view the story as representing the quest for self, which is both tragic and complicated.