Conrad's Secret Sharer as the Pole within: The Polish Father as Doppelgänger

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"Conrad' s Secret Sharer as the Pole Within: The Polish Father as Doppelgänger" establishes an As If hypothesis that presents "The Secret Sharer" as a paradigm for reading the Conradian canon. Although other critics have written on Conrad 's father figure, his Polishness, and the double, my essay assumes a combined methodology based on biographical, psychological, symbolic, and doppelgänger strategies for setting up my thesis and text decoding. The first three chapters provide the background and methodology to be applied to "The Secret Sharer" explication in the last two chapters. Beginning with Chapter I, "Conrad's Polishness and the Dual Polish Father Figure," the biographical and cultural basis for Conrad's Polish matrix and his ambivalence as "Homo Duplex" are explored. Chapter II, "Conrad and the Fictional Father," reviews the proliferation of Conradian father figures, seeing the Lacanian metaphor of the father in its conflict over law and desire as significant in Conrad's generation of themes of crisis over identity involving betrayal, guilt, and questions of fidelity to paternal ideals. In addition, the father is discussed as "symbol" in preparation for equating the Polish father, Apollo, with the doppelgänger. Chapter III, "Conrad's Symbolic Approach to Fiction: The Double as Symbol: Motifs of the Doppelgänger" stresses Conrad's claim that all great art is symbolic. The double is examined as symbol of the unconscious in its many doppelgänger motifs. Finally, in Chapters IV and V, "The Secret Sharer as Pole Within: The Doppelgänger as Apollo, the Polish Father" Parts I and II, concepts from preceding chapters are used to formulate the thesis for "The Secret Sharer" as paradigm for interpreting Conrad's fiction. In this hypothetical approach, there is no attempt to be definitive and no intention to be dogmatic; the only purpose is to explore cognitive possibilities of meaning to enrich, not reduce, the close reading of "The Secret Sharer" and provide a paradigm of thesis generation for Conrad's major fiction.