The Secret Agent – post IV

The consequences of the suicide bombing come home to roost in quite dramatic style. As the two senior policemen fight it out to protect and charge their favourite anarchists Verloc has to face his wife.

Once she overhears that Stevie her brother is dead she goes into a trance and no matter what excuses Verloc gives it doe nothing to get through to her. In a brilliant piece of writing Conrad has Verloc arguing exactly as a man usually does trying to justify the unjustifiable by making himself out to be the victim.

Despite Verloc’s warning that he will spend time in prison and that he has been a victim of the bullying of Mr Vladimir in the embassy his wife realises she is now free and gets dressed to go out. She gets stopped by her husband who is lounging on the sofa and she then picks up the knife and kills him convinced that she is doing away with her brother’s murderer.

The entire scene of Verloc and his wife is not only believable but shows how easy it is for the wrong words and attitude to inflame grief and lead to something much more dangerous.

Meanwhile the police are focused on smashing the spy ring and see Verloc as a sprat that will lead them to the whale. But with him lying on a sofa in Soho with a knife in his gut is he going to be any good to anyone?

Final chunk tomorrow…


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