In Joseph Conrad's short story "The Secret Sharer," a young unnamed captain strives to prove to both his crew and to himself that he is that both the physical and mental strength to lead them and keep them alive. At the heart of the story is this internal conflict. The captain holds a high opinion of the title to which he has been promoted and yet he is uncertain whether or not he has earned that title. He knows that being the captain of a vessel requires a man to become the best version of himself: intelligent, disciplined, forthright, and dedicated to the fulfillment of duty and to the protection of his men. In his encounter with the fugitive Leggatt, the captain shows himself willing to commit acts that are counter to the code of ethics of the high seas so long as they happen to agree with…… [Read More]
He knows he is in a delicate position with respect to his crew, and he learns a lesson from Leggatt's story. He knows that he must earn his crew's trust while at the same time exhibit strong command. He does this by commanding the dangerous voyage to allow Leggatt to escape but not telling the crew why he is doing this.
By the end, Leggatt has demonstrated his leadership character, though. He guides the ship not only towards the shore but then away from it, in difficult circumstances. He wins the crew and more importantly wins himself. He had this character the entire time, but because of his inexperience he did not quite believe it. Leaders, however, find themselves in that position precisely because they have that character. The young captain overcame his self-doubt and his doubts about the ship. He was not afraid to challenge the ship and crew,…… [Read More]
The image of the law arises, but like the woman, the captain has already experienced a kind of internal, moral shift. Like the woman the captain cannot bear to morally condemn the murderer, or reveal the fact that Leggatt is on his ship when the authorities arrive. Captain Archbold wants to act according to the law, like the men of the Glaspell tale, but Leggatt's protective captain pretends the ship is empty and points out that Leggatt's actions helped save the ship during a storm.
The captain, from a law-abiding man, has suddenly become a man who will evade the law, because he mysteriously perceives himself to be the same as another man. Unlike the feminist identification or mirroring that occurs in the Glaspell tale, the Conrad tale's sense of a "mirror image" of two psychologically united selves is far more mysterious. Eventually, the captain agrees to allow Leggatt to…… [Read More]
Don Quixote, despite his inability to recognize between his conscious and unconscious selves, differed from Shylock in that made no conscious effort to allow his unconscious self to emerge. His continued exposure to an alternative life -- life in the world of fiction -- made him develop a stronger unconscious self: " ... he became so absorbed in his books that he spent his nights from sunset to sunrise ... And what with little sleep and much reading his brains got so dry he lost his wits. His fancy grew full of ... all sorts of impossible nonsense ... " This narrative about the development of Don Quixote de la Mancha's character, the metaphorical self of Don Quixote, was associated with the Captain's Leggatt's persona, the individual who symbolized the man's innermost desire for freedom and adventure. In effect, the hero that was Don Quixote surfaced to dominate over the…… [Read More]
Mulligan keenly notices features of Stephen's obsession when he mockingly calls him "O, shade of Kinch the elder! Japhet in search of father!" Partially, his argument for Shakespeare's autobiographical tendencies is seeded by his own frustration in his search for paternal links.
Out of this, Stephen's rejection of the Irish renaissance is significant because he wishes to judge himself against the backdrop of classical standards. "In our case, Stephen has 'entered into a competition' with Shakespeare by making himself a companion to the model of Shakespeare and placing himself, as much as he can by means of lecturing, next to the model of Shakespeare." So the contention that Shakespeare's plays are autobiographical, by being a particularly unique argument, if successful, would forever attach the name Dedalus to Shakespeare -- thus, his intellectual roots would be fundamentally defined to the external world. Notably, this would remain true regardless of Stephen's recognition…… [Read More]
Women as Outsiders: A Comparison of Jane Eyre and "The Horse Dealer's Daughter"
Women are often portrayed as a marginalized "other" or outsider in literature, reflecting the degree to which they are outside the traditional patriarchal concepts of authority and power as well as (for much of Western history) outside the practical and legal means of self-sufficiency and self-direction. As the times have shifted, the particular perspective and definition of women as outsiders has also changed, as can be seen in a comparison of the central figures in Charlotte Bronte's Victorian-era novel Jane Eyre and DH Lawrence's more modern short story "The Horse Dealer's Daughter." Interestingly, both heroines are seen as similarly detached from traditional power structures, yet the degree to which Jane distances herself through her morality actually gives her power, while the increasing amorality of the times leads Mabel (Lawrence's protagonist) down a path of deeper…… [Read More]