Explore clear that he is not a
Explore the effectiveness of chapter one of ‘The Secret Agent’. ‘The Secret Agent’ by Joseph Conrad is set in 1886 in London, it tells the story of an anarchist, Adolf Verloc, who owns a shop selling pornographic material and other miscellaneous merchandise. However he is in fact a secret agent working with a group of men who believe the same as him. Within chapter one the reader learns about the Verloc family; Adolf Verloc, the main character of the novel; Winnie Verloc, his wife; Stevie, Winnie’s mentally disabled brother who is cared for by Winnie; and Winnie’s mother who lives with the couple.This first chapter is effective in describing the characters who play a pivotal role in the novel. The shop owned by Adolf Verloc is a front for his true anarchist agenda; it is the first thing described in the opening chapter of the novel. It is described as ‘a square box of a place, with the front glazed in small panes’, this description does not make the shop appear very appealing however it does obtain particular clientele.
These include ‘very young men, who hung about the window for a time before slipping in suddenly’ and the ‘men of a more mature age… had the collars of their overcoats turned right up to their moustaches’,’ neither of these class of men seem appealing and the way some of these men are described as ‘looking generally as if they were not in funds’ suggests that there is something quite shady and odd about the shop. The mysterious element of the shop also plays a part in making the Mr Verloc also seem quite mysterious and secretive, even to his family.The shops description is effective in seeing how Mr Verloc appears to make a living and prevents the neighbourhood and his family from seeing how Mr Verloc truly makes money. Mr Verloc is described in the novel as having ‘prominent, heavy-lidded eyes’ and that a ‘dark smooth moustache covered his thick lips’. From this it is clear that he is not a particular attractive man and that he is not someone the public would look twice at or take notice of. Mr Verloc is a provider, for his family, his customers and the government but is spoilt by his wife who provides his meals and cleans the home.
Mr Verloc met his wife after he lodged with her and her mother, his mother-in-law views him as a good man who is good for her daughter’s social security. However given his description and laziness the reader does question why Winnie finds him attractive when she appears to be out of his league by her appearance. Chapter one’s description shows how Mr Verloc is not one that appears as someone whom many would like which is potentially an advantage for a secret agent. Winnie Verloc is shown to be a woman with ‘a full bust, in a tight bodice, and with broad hips. Her hair was very tidy. This description shows a woman who would be attractive to many men and is thought to be out of the league of her husband and she could interest men of higher social status then him. In the shop some customers become embarrassed at the idea of buying the shady merchandise so instead purchase over priced stationary.
With Mrs Verloc at the till they can make a larger profit when these nervous gentlemen panic at the moment of purchase. This chapter shows that Winnie Verloc may know something about her husband that is not seen by anyone else to remain with him and this is effective in keeping the reader interested.Also her brother Stevie, who has a mental illness, is cared for primarily by Winnie and she cares solely for him as her own son. This love and devotion to Stevie may suggest what her priorities truly are and what she is capable of to protect him.
‘The Secret Agent’ by Joseph Conrad is a book that explains the lives of anarchists and those who live with and around them. The opening chapter of this novel describes the main character of this novel however it can’t be seen whether he is a good man or a bad man as well as his wife and her basic personality and priorities.