The Secret Agent is one of the most famous novels by Joseph Conrad. It addresses such disputable issues as anarchism and terrorism. Admittedly, these topics have acquired special attention after the tragedy in New York in 2001. It is possible to focus on various aspects of the issues mentioned above. For instance, some may claim that Mr. Verloc is an exemplary anarchist. Others may argue that he is more like a terrorist. So, is Mr. Verloc a terrorist or an anarchist?
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In the first place, it is necessary to define the notions. This will help to understand whether the protagonist of the novel is an anarchist or a terrorist. Thus, anarchists ignore rules and conventions. They believe that absence of rules can lead societies to the true development. Of course, capitalistic societies are believed to be weak, unjust and wrongful.
Mr. Verloc is a member of an anarchist group. The members of the group believe that “only preparing, organizing, enriching, making ready the lawful inheritance of the suffering proletariat” people can establish a new and rightful order (Conrad 37).
However, Mr. Verloc is unlikely to be an anarchist. He may articulate some anarchist ideas and he can even seem to be an anarchist. Nonetheless, he is not an anarchist proper. Conrad depicts him as a “thoroughly domesticated” man (4). Mr. Verloc runs a shop which means he is a part of the capitalistic system. He is married and he has quite ordinary social life. He is not an outlaw. He is a part of the system; he is one of those who follow rules and conventions.
As far as terrorists are concerned, these people seek for the opportunity to promote their ideas in a very cruel manner. Terrorists tend to attract people’s attention via such acts as damaging some property (e.g. exploding something) or killing innocent people. The major principle is: the more people are killed or the more damage is caused the better for terrorists.
However, Mr. Verloc can hardly be called a terrorist. He makes the bomb explode, but he wants no victims. In fact, Mr. Verloc can be called a terrorist who never “in his life raised personally as much as hiss little finger against the social edifice” (Conrad 36). Therefore, it is possible to conclude that Mr. Verloc is not much of a terrorist.
Thus, Mr. Verloc is not an anarchist, but he is not a terrorist either. This man simply tries to seem what he is not. In fact, he can be regarded as one of those who find themselves in conditions which force them to act in a specific way. Conrad manages to depict those people who are simply exposed to different dangerous ideas. The talented writer warns that such dangerous ideas can lead to terrible consequences.
Thus, the protagonist of the novel is killed because of his playing dangerous games. The protagonist’s life and especially his death is a great illustration of Conrad’s views on terrorism and anarchism. Mr. Verloc’s dearth can be deciphered in the following way: terroristic methods and anarchist values are doomed to fail as they are wrongful.
Anarchist values are delusive as anarchy can lead to destruction. Terroristic ways are also doomed as they do not draw people’s attention to some agendas, they provoke reactions which also lead to destruction (terrorist are generally found and punished).
Conrad, Joseph. The Secret Agent. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.