Book Summary: The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne

Download "Book Summary: The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne" as PDF


Want to get the main points of The Secret in 20 minutes or less? Read the world’s #1 book summary of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne here.

Read a quick 1-Page Summary, a Full Summary, or watch video summaries curated by our expert team.

Video Summaries of The Secret

We’ve scoured the Internet for the very best videos on The Secret, from high-quality videos summaries to interviews or commentary by Rhonda Byrne.

1-Page Summary of The Secret

Overview

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne is a book that says thoughts are powerful. They can either attract positive things or negative things from the universe, based on what those thoughts were about. If someone has negative thoughts, they’ll usually attract more negativity in their life. Positive thinkers will often attract positive things into their lives.

The law of attraction is a universal principle that states whatever a person thinks about will come to them. It doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative, what matters is how much energy the person puts into thinking about it. Thoughts can be monitored by feelings, so people must pay attention to their thoughts and make sure they’re focused on what they want in life rather than dwelling on things which don’t help them achieve their goals. The three steps involved in using thoughts to create anything are: ask for something with an open mind; believe that you’ll receive it because the universe has unlimited resources; and focus on the present because worrying about past mistakes or future problems won’t help you get what you want now. You should live every day as if your dreams are already coming true, remain grateful for all your blessings, and constantly visualize success instead of failure or obstacles along the way. These methods can be used for wealth, love, health (physical & mental), and helping other people around the world who need assistance achieving basic needs like food & shelter.

Key Takeaways

When people have a negative situation to contend with, that situation consumes their thoughts and causes more negativity. People who are occupied by positive thoughts and confident about achieving goals will find that positive things happen more often. The law of attraction works because thoughts have energy, energy resonates at a frequency, and the universe responds at the same frequency. Requests should be phrased without negatives; instead they should focus on what will happen when the goal is achieved. There’s no need to ask repeatedly as soon as a request has been made by thought; it must only be believed that it will come true once desired. To be in a state of receiving, one must act as if it has already happened—awareness of thoughts is vital for using the law of attraction, and feelings signal whether those thoughts are negative or positive. It’s important to remember to monitor your feelings so you can ask the universe for reminders when necessary—the universe provides enough abundance for everyone if everyone uses this law wisely!

Key Takeaway 1: When people have a negative situation to contend with, that situation consumes their thoughts, causing more negativity to happen in their lives.

Negative things don’t cause negative thoughts. Instead, it’s the other way around: negative thoughts attract negative events. If someone has a bad thought and doesn’t immediately change their thinking, they’ll probably experience more bad things in life.

People might think it’s bad to blame the victim, but the law of attraction says otherwise. Even if someone was a victim of a natural disaster or an accident—and that could mean a car crash caused by another driver’s negligence—they’re also responsible for their current situation in some way because they were your thoughts created it through the law of attraction. People who are genetically prone to cancer can help make sure they stay healthy only if they believe certain things and create different kinds of thoughts over time.

This is true for people who think that their poor circumstances began in adulthood, because they would then be more aware of adult responsibilities and the consequences to their actions. However, a small child wouldn’t have to worry about bills or artificial ingredients in food.

Key Takeaway 2: Anyone who is occupied by positive thoughts and is confident about achieving goals will find that positive things are more likely to happen.

Successful people tend to be confident and positive. They set goals and believe they can achieve them, so the universe sends positive things that align with those thoughts. It helps to visualize the entire day in advance or imagine how the past would have gone if it had been perfect.

The idea that successful people are naturally confident aligns with common knowledge about the role of confidence in accomplishment. For example, a singer who is more confident will be better than one who is less confident. Confidence also helps when convincing others to give opportunities based on skills such as coding and selling items at interviews or meetings. Furthermore, being able to project confidence despite having low levels of skill can get you noticed by others and help you advance your career faster.

Key Takeaway 3: The law of attraction works because thoughts have energy, energy resonates at a frequency, and the universe responds at the same frequency.

Everything that is alive emits energy, including thoughts. The theory of relativity states that matter is also composed of energy, so everything in the universe can be changed by the power of thought. Every thought and idea has a specific frequency or vibration. If you change your thinking to match positive vibrations instead of negative ones, then you’ll attract different events into your life and experience them in a much better way than before.

Positive thinking is a popular idea. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions, which lead to more positive thoughts. This cycle continues until it becomes self-sustaining and spreads throughout society. Also, positivity allows people to think clearly rather than be bogged down by negative emotions or prejudices that are based in negativity. This results in better decision-making overall and makes people feel good about themselves as well because they’re feeling positive emotions instead of negative ones. In this way, the power of positive thought can support good things and deter bad things from happening because you have the clarity to make better decisions rather than being clouded by negativity or prejudice.

Key Takeaway 4: Requests should be phrased without negatives, with a focus on what will happen when the goal is achieved rather than what needs to change. There is no need to ask repeatedly.

Analysis: If we say that we don’t want any more bills or frizzy hair, the law of attraction still sends us those things because it’s focusing on them. Instead, we should focus our attention on what we do want by asking for checks in the mail and perfect hair. Once these requests are made, they’ll be sent to us.

Requesters need to find ways of asking for what they want that aren’t too negative. For example, if someone wants to pay off their debt, they shouldn’t ask for no more debt because that would mean even more debt. Instead, they should ask for an ideal credit score or a life without stress.

It’s tempting to ask for something repeatedly if it doesn’t arrive, but that may not help. The thing you’re asking for may be related to other steps in the process of receiving it.

Key Takeaway 5: As soon as a request is made by thought, the requester must believe that the request has been received and that it will be fulfilled as soon as the requester wants it.

Belief is the second step in creating what you want through the law of attraction. It’s not enough to just ask for something; if you don’t believe that it will happen, then your request won’t be fulfilled because you don’t have a strong belief. Your thoughts’ frequency determines whether or not your desire comes true, so having a sincere belief increases your chances of getting what you want.

You could try the law of attraction by asking for something that is implausible and pointing out that it didn’t come true. If you don’t believe in it, you won’t be able to make it work. You might have more success if you’re willing to give the process an honest try, and even more success if nothing else has worked for you before. Belief is the most difficult step of all; once again, someone who doesn’t believe in the process will never see results from using it. For example, if they still have debt because they did not invest their belief fully in this new approach to getting rid of what they owe, then doubts about whether or not this really works are strengthened because the process seems to have failed them.

Key Takeaway 6: To be in a state of receiving, the requester must act as if the request has already been fulfilled.

The final step in creating something is to be ready for it. In order to make room for what you want, you must believe that it will happen and that the necessary changes are being made. You can’t wait until the change happens before making room or acting as if it’s happening. If you do, then start taking action now by living your life differently so that there’s room when the desired change comes about. For example, if you’re hoping to lose weight and get fit, buy clothes in a smaller size even though they don’t fit yet; or if someone important is coming into your life soon and you hope he/she parks their car in your garage, leave enough space for them!

If you want to buy a car, you should start by making the request in positive terms and believing that it will be fulfilled. You can then plan where to buy the car, what color and features you want, where to park it, how to clean it, etc. Then put a picture of the car on your desk or somewhere else so that you can see yourself driving it every day. Stop spending money on other cars if you’re planning on getting rid of them once your dream car has been purchased.

It could be dangerous to ask for a loan or money if you’re not in the state of receiving. In these cases, it might seem like you have to spend money and live lavishly as if you already have that much cash in your bank account. If a person’s goal is to lose weight without exercising, they may experience negative consequences from avoiding exercise as if they were already healthy. It’s up to the practitioner whether or not this is considered being “in” a certain state and what behavior would be too risky (for example, eating unhealthy foods).

Key Takeaway 7: Awareness of thoughts is a vital skill for using the law of attraction, and feelings of positivity and negativity signal whether thoughts are negative or positive. It is important for a requester to remember to monitor their feelings and they can ask the universe to remind them to be aware of their feelings.

A person can’t be happy if they’re thinking negative thoughts. So, a requester will have to monitor their thoughts and make sure that they’re positive. The universe may provide reminders when the requester is distracted or has slipped into negativity without realizing it.

When you’re aware of your emotions, you can reflect on them and decide whether they’re reasonable or not. You can also determine if the emotion has caused negative ramifications for yourself or others. If it’s a negative emotion, then you need to change your thoughts so that they are more positive. People who believe in the law of attraction have to be even more aware of their emotions because negative thinking will hinder its effectiveness.

Key Takeaway 8: The universe is abundant enough to provide for the requests of an individual as well as for every human being if they all use the law of attraction.

The law of attraction doesn’t recognize limitations that people imagine exist on the world economy or world agriculture. If every human being used the law of attraction to gain wealth, have enough food to eat, and have love in their lives, then the world would provide for those needs.

Some people think that the world is a zero-sum game. That means if one person has more money, someone else will lose some of his or her money because there’s only so much to go around. They also believe that the planet has limited resources and can’t produce enough food for everyone. Love seems like it could be a zero-sum game in which each person is married to one other person, so being married to one person means no other persons can marry either half of the couple. But advances in science are making it possible for us to grow more food and help feed everyone on Earth without causing inflation problems with too much currency floating around.

Book Structure

The Secret is divided into two parts: Rhonda Byrne’s narrative and the stories from people in her documentary. Most of the contributors believe that The Secret can solve any problem, especially if you just think positively about it. They also connect The Secret to quantum physics and say that there are no drawbacks to using this method for solving problems.

This book is a conversation between the author and the reader. It’s warm, positive, and encouraging. The tone includes reminders that you can manifest anything you desire.

The Secret is not based on any particular religious belief. It does, however, take a spiritual approach to life and the universe as a whole. The contributors are mostly from Western traditions and support their arguments with quotes from the Bible.

About the Author

Rhonda Byrne is a television producer in Australia. She was approached by the producers of The Secret to work on a documentary about it. She believed that using the attractive power of the Secret would be key to its success and documented her experience with it, along with some other advocates from the film. About half of this narrative describes their passion for The Secret, as well as personal experiences where they think it may have played a role. Since publishing The Secret, Byrne has gone on to advocate for its approach in two more books and appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s shows.

Full Summary of The Secret

Overview

Adolf Verloc has been assigned by the Embassy to infiltrate the Red Committee in London. Mr. Vladimir, a high-ranking official at the Embassy, is displeased with his lack of progress and orders him to lead an attack on British society that will allow for repressive legislation.

Mr. Verloc lives with his wife and her brother in a store that sells shady items. He hosts some Red Committee members, who are quick to spout vainglorious statements but don’t seem capable of accomplishing the task Mr. Vladimir has asked them to do.

On a later date, Ossipon meets with the Professor, an eccentric man who makes explosives. The article says that Verloc was killed by his own bomb.

After the meeting with Professor, Chief Inspector Heat runs into him on his way out of the building. He talks to Heat about what he’s found at the bombing scene and leaves. After that, Heat meets with Assistant Commissioner and reveals his former relationship with Mr. Verloc. The Assistant Commissioner complains to Sir Ethelred about using secret agents like Mr. Verloc because they are dangerous for their organization as well as society in general.

In the past few weeks, Mr. Verloc has been in Europe and back; he’s taken long walks with Stevie. Mrs. Verloc is glad to see her husband taking care of Stevie, who is like a son to her. However, on the day of the Bomb Outrage, Mr. Verloc comes home looking ill after trips from Vladimir and Heat about how he gave a bomb to Stevie for Greenwich Observatory but that it was dropped by accident before it could be planted there.

At first, Mrs. Verloc is shocked and doesn’t say anything. However, she remembers how her husband has mistreated her over the years and stabs him to death with a knife. Terrified of being hanged for murder, she tries to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge into the water below but ends up running into Ossipon on his way home from work. She begs him to run away with her so they can escape together. When he sees Mr. Verloc’s dead body at their house, however, he becomes confused and frightened that something terrible must have happened there and runs away without helping her get out of town before anyone finds out what happened or where she went. She later commits suicide on board a passenger ship as it crosses the English Channel because she knows no one will come looking for her in Europe.

Chapter I

In Summary

At half past ten in the morning, Adolf Verloc leaves his shop. He is a large man who runs a business that sells contraceptives and pornography. His wife, Winnie Verloc, is an attractive woman who shares some of her husband’s attitudes towards life. Mrs. Verloc’s mother used to run a boarding house until she married Mr. Verloc; she now lives with them and looks after Stevie—a young man who has been unable to hold down a job because he is mentally challenged and acts erratically at times. The narrator gives descriptions of these characters and their relationships together as well as other details about their background so they can be better understood later on in the story when things begin to happen between them all.

In this novel, the narrator quickly switches from Mr. Verloc’s walk to his house to a description of both him and his wife. He also talks about Stevie, who is Mrs. Verloc’s son. The narrator tells us that Mr. Verloc owns a shop in London where shady characters come by to buy things they can’t get anywhere else because of their illegal nature (i.e., stolen goods). In addition, the reader learns that Mr. Verloc thinks about fog while he walks home from work each day; it becomes clear later on in the novel what he means when he thinks about this fog – which is an ominous foreshadowing device used by Conrad throughout the book.

The first chapter also includes many examples of foreshadowing, such as the office boy’s prankish barrage of rockets in his office. The reason for this is that he was upset by stories told by other office boys about injustices, which made him a bomb-throwing anarchist on a smaller scale. His motive wasn’t as pure and straightforward as the Red Committee members’ rhetoric or Mr. Verloc’s begging to be paid for his services; it was more like Mr. Vladimir’s ruthlessness (which is surprising since they’re so different).

Chapter II

Mr. Verloc has gone to the Russian embassy early in the morning to answer a summons. Mr. Verloc is employed by society as a double agent infiltrating anarchist groups, and he lives an indolent lifestyle that allows him to do this.

In the Russian embassy, Verloc meets Privy Councillor Wurmt, who expresses his dissatisfaction with Verloc’s work. He has been sending reports about potential unrest in London for a year and a half but is more interested in making this potential an actual fact. Mr. Vladimir, First Secretary of the embassy, reprimands him for not working hard enough and threatens to cut off his funding if he doesn’t produce results soon. It is revealed that Verloc has been working for the government under Baron Stott-Wartenheim for eleven years by alerting them of potential plots in London.

However, Mr. Vladimir believes that England has been too complacent about the threat of anarchism and social revolution. Therefore, he argues that a bombing at the Greenwich Royal Observatory would be necessary to rouse them to restrict individual liberties and maintain societal order. This act wouldn’t seem like an attack on science because it is so unconventional.

The anarchist’s views on terrorism in this chapter are a direct statement of the novel’s most important and frighteningly real ideology. The irony is that it seems to be understood by the representative of a government that wants to restrict individual liberties, as opposed to an anarchist who would want more freedom. Before examining these ideas, however, one should keep in mind that he delivers them after lecturing and reprimanding Mr. Verloc for his failure at being effective; in fact, Vladimir’s scornful tone is cruelly comic given how sincere he appears when delivering these words.

Mr. Vladimir is not an anarchist himself, but he does share some of the same sentiments as anarchists. He thinks that society needs to be changed and improved upon, which is why he uses their tactics in order to achieve his own goals. Mr. Vladimir’s ultimate goal is for a universal repressive legislation in England that will change and improve society by getting rid of the bourgeoisie class (the upper-class).

Mr. Vladimir is an ironic figure, as he comes from a middle class background but works with aristocrats and the bourgeoisie. He also knows more about them than Mr. Verloc does because of his familiarity with their culture and world view.

Chapter III

Mr. Verloc hosts a meeting with three radicals in his back parlor behind the shop. Each of these men is unique in their appearance and political convictions, but they have one thing in common: they are all financially dependent upon women and generally feckless.

These three radicals are very different. They have different personalities and ideas, which results in a lot of arguments and insults. Mr. Verloc is upset because he thinks they can’t do anything to help him get the bomb from them like Vladimir asked him to do. When they leave, Mr. Verloc closes his shop and turns off the gas, but notices that Stevie is still awake after watching all this happenings with excitement. Mrs Verloc says that Stevie takes everything too seriously—he’s too sensitive for his environment.

Analyze

This chapter is most interesting as it shows the different personalities of three men – Michaelis, Yundt, and Ossipon. They are all radicals (meaning they have extreme views) but their personalities are very different. Each man essentially talks about himself and his ideals in a monologue; however, when you put them together you see that each man has something unique to offer and there are some similarities between them.

In the first chapter, Michaelis is introduced as a talkative character. He says that it’s better to have something simple than complex. It makes life less interesting and you can’t learn anything from it. Yundt argues against this saying that he wants a band of men who are strong enough to give themselves frankly the name destroyers and free from pessimism which rots the world. However, later in the discussion, Michaelis becomes upset at being called pessimistic so they all go back to arguing about whether or not they’re optimists or pessimists instead of talking about their cause.

Chapter IV

In Summary

Ossipon meets with the Professor in an underground bar to ask him about a bombing that has just happened in Greenwich Park. The robust Ossipon and the diminutive Professor face off, but it becomes apparent that the socialist publisher is no match for the solitary explosives expert. The Professor gives an account of his philosophy on destroying society without thinking about what will come next, as socialists like Michaelis and Karl Yundt would do. He also tells Ossipon that he must invent a detonator which works every time consistently so there are no mistakes when using it to blow up society’s institutions. Crucial to this project is finding someone who would carry out these attacks reliably, and only after they’ve been thoroughly prepared psychologically for doing such horrible things. When Ossipon shows him the newspaper reporting a bomb detonated by Mr. Verloc which killed only its bomber (Verloc), he tells him Mrs Verloc might know something because she was always involved with her husband’s activities.

In Chapter 4, the author writes about two characters who have very different personalities and political views. They meet in a small space that makes them feel more uncomfortable with each other.

Ossipon and the Professor are presented as opposites in stature and demeanor; although Ossipon is physically imposing, he’s easily cowed by the impish Professor because of his fanatical conviction. The two radicals share a common trait: Both are loners who have chosen to work alone. This may be an interesting comparison with Michaelis, another solitary radical (52). Although Michaelis’ time in prison has left him unable to cope with conversation with others, the Professor’s solitude has made him antisocial in a way that he rejects others’ beliefs.

The professor has a unique way of looking at the world. He doesn’t think that life is important because he thinks it’s temporary, and when we die there’s nothing left to live for. The world can be viewed as an illusion, and people should focus on what they will leave behind instead of living in fear or regret.

Chapter V

In Summary

The Professor leaves Ossipon’s house and thinks about how he is different from the rest of the people around him. He walks through London streets, bumping into Chief Inspector Heat of the Special Crimes Department. The Inspector tells him that no one is looking for him.

Chief Inspector Heat was annoyed earlier in the day because of the Greenwich Bomb Outrage. He had just given his assurances to a government official that he would control the anarchists, but now he is embarrassed by this outrage. The Chief Inspector interviews a constable who gathered pieces of evidence at the scene and takes with him some clothing from one of the dead bombers as evidence.

The Chief Inspector threatens to arrest the Professor because he believes that the Professor was involved in a bombing. After this confrontation, he reports his findings to his superior, the Assistant Commissioner.

Analyze

In the previous chapter, Professor Overman was shown up by Ossipon, who had a bomb in his pocket. In this chapter, he is shown up again by Chief Inspector Heat when they bump into each other on the street. It’s clear that Conrad wants to show how pompous and overblown the Professor is with his religious zealotry and sense of self-importance. He sets it all up for us so we can see how ridiculous this character really is by having him have an ego about being disappointed at not receiving praise from Heat just because he doesn’t know what he looks like (60).

In this chapter, the narrator takes us away from Ossipon and focuses on another character. Chief Inspector Heat is an interesting police officer who has his own quirks. He’s a bit eccentric like Mr. Vladimir and he’s also tied up in departmental politics and other oddities that come with being a policeman.

Like this summary? Have too much to read? You'll love my new book summary product Shortform.

Shortform has the world’s best summaries of nonfiction books and articles. Even better, it helps you remember what you read, so you can make your life better. What's special about Shortform:

Sound like what you've been looking for? Sign up for a 5-day free trial here.

Chapter VI

The Assistant Commissioner turns out to be a friend of Michaelis’s. He helped get him out of jail early because he was friends with the woman who paid for his bail. The AC is part of an upper-class society that doesn’t like the middle class, and they both hate how people in their class are treated by other classes.

The Assistant Commissioner realizes that the Chief Inspector is hiding something and forces him to reveal it. The Chief Inspector shows a piece of fabric from the crime scene, which has an address sewn into it, and reveals his connection with Mr. Verloc: He’s been investigating Verloc for seven years (he visited the shop), but never told anyone about this connection because he thought secret agents were immoral.

Analyze

As we have seen in previous chapters, the point of view shifts to different characters. In this chapter, it shifts from Chief Inspector Heat to his superior, the Assistant Commissioner. They are supposed to work together but they indulge in petty power plays and don’t get anything done because they’re too busy arguing about whose methods are better – all of which is funny because their situation is so ridiculous. The element of hierarchy adds another dimension to the humor as Inspector Heat has to express his disdain for his superior without making it seem like an insult. So he brags about how long he’s known Mr. Verloc while leaving out that it was before the Assistant Commissioner even existed at Scotland Yard!

Chapter VII

The Assistant Commissioner leaves his office and goes to visit Sir Ethelred. He wants to give a report on the Greenwich Bomb Outrage, as well as express his suspicion of Inspector Heat, who he believes is much more amenable to maintaining close connections with shady agents such as Mr. Verloc.

After his interview with Sir Ethelred, the Assistant Commissioner walks over to Toodles and had a chat with her. He then went back to his department in Scotland Yard. The Assistant Commissioner grabbed a quick meal at an Italian restaurant before he sneaked over Mr. Verloc’s house to investigate it.

Conrad’s novel is set in London, where every political player has a different agenda and is involved in some sort of power struggle. There are so many layers of complexity that it can be difficult to keep track of the characters’ relationships with each other. In this chapter, we see one character literally move from one milieu (social circle) to another as he tries to get his message across—the Assistant Commissioner must wait for Sir Ethelred because they have something important to discuss. The characters are all aware of their positions within the greater system, which explains why they’re friendly toward each other despite being on opposite sides: both the Assistant Commissioner and Toodles know that they’re subservient to Sir Ethelred.

Chapter VIII

Mrs. Verloc’s mother announces that she is going to live in an almshouse for widows so that her son-in-law can give more attention to her daughter, Winnie, and grandson Stevie. She tells them this after they take a bus home from the almshouse. Mrs. Verloc listens sympathetically to Stevie’s exclamations about the horse driver whipping his horse on their way there but doesn’t know how to respond when he says “Poor old horse.” The next day Mr. Verloc leaves for Europe on business without telling anyone where he is going or when he will be back.

Analyze

Stevie is a character in the novel, The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. Stevie has difficulty expressing himself and understanding others. He also cares deeply about other people’s suffering but doesn’t know how to express his feelings or show compassion for those who are hurting. This is shown in Chapter 3 of the book when he visits Winnie at her home after she had just lost her husband, Mr. Verloc (who was killed by Stevie). Mrs Verloc does not take his emotions seriously and doubts that he even feels any emotion at all. Additionally, many characters think that Stevie is mentally disabled because they can’t understand what he’s saying or why he says it (it may be worth mentioning here that Stevie isn’t actually mentally disabled – this is just an assumption made by everyone else).

Like this summary? Have too much to read? You'll love my new book summary product Shortform.

Shortform has the world’s best summaries of nonfiction books and articles. Even better, it helps you remember what you read, so you can make your life better. What's special about Shortform:

Sound like what you've been looking for? Sign up for a 5-day free trial here.

Chapter IX

Mr. Verloc returns from a 10-day trip to Europe with his wife and son, Stevie. He is in somewhat better spirits than before the trip, but he still has trouble talking to people about normal things like work or family life. Instead, he talks with other members of the Red Committee (a secret group that wants to overthrow the government) about overthrowing the current government. This excites Stevie very much and puts him into a highly excited mood for several days after Mr. Verloc’s return home from this meeting with his friends on the committee. Despite seeing some ominous signs in Stevie’s behavior over these few days, Mrs. Verloc thinks of them as nothing more than excitement over what her husband does for a living. She discusses it with Mr. Verloc and they decide that it would be best if they sent Stevie off somewhere else where he could get away from all this stress at home.

Mr. Verloc is out of the house for most of the day on the day of the Greenwich Bomb Outrage. When he returns, his wife tries to get him to rest and eat something because he looks sickly and haggard. Mr. Vladimir arrives at their shop, and takes Mr. Verloc away for a time to talk about what happened that day in Greenwich Park with Stevie’s bomb going off prematurely. While they are gone, Chief Inspector Heat comes by looking for information about all this – especially since there was an address card from their shop found near where Stevie had been killed in the explosion. He doesn’t say anything outright about who he thinks may have been involved until Mrs. Verloc shows him some fabric from an overcoat which she recognizes as belonging to her husband. She then figures out that it must have been Stevie who was blown up by a bomb, not knowing yet that Mr. Verloc has already admitted this fact earlier while she wasn’t home.

Mr. Vladimir comes back into town after having taken care of business elsewhere, but before returning home tells Mr. Verloc that he should run away before being arrested or worse – his friend agrees without argument or protestation, although Mrs.

Analyze

Although Verloc is dead in Chapter 4, the reader learns that he’s actually alive. This happens when Ossipon shares an article with him from a newspaper. In the previous chapter, we learn that Mr. Verloc survived his terrorist attack and has been living under another identity for years. The author uses this technique to add suspense to the story by making readers wonder what will happen next and how it will all unfold.

In this chapter, we are given the opposite of what was originally reported in the newspaper about a bomb outrage. Mr. Verloc promises and gives Inspector Heat a confession, which is ironic because he actually confesses to his wife later on. She listens as her husband admits to leading her brother into death by being an informant for police.

Chapter X

The Assistant Commissioner heads to Westminster Palace to speak with Sir Ethelred about the Greenwich Bomb Outrage. He runs into Toodles on his way in and makes small talk. The Assistant Commissioner reports that they’ve found Mr. Verloc and Stevie guilty of the bombing, though he also says Michaelis isn’t involved. He tells Sir Ethelred that he’s left Mr. Verloc alone because there’s nowhere for him to go, and that Verloc is married with a wife at home who doesn’t know what her husband has been up to lately.

He changes back into his suit and goes to a party at the lady patroness of Michaelis. He tells her that he is not suspected, but Mr. Vladimir appears and they speak in private outside; the embassy man tells him that he wants to use Verloc’s case as a way to get rid of foreign agents from England. They go their separate ways after this conversation.

Analysis: The soirée that the Assistant Commissioner attends is a peculiar occasion, where anarchists and government officials mix. It’s ironic to see them together because they’re supposed to be enemies. However, the hostess of this party manages to bring everyone together by being friends with both sides.

In this chapter, we see a meeting of the Assistant Commissioner and Mr. Vladimir where the latter is humbled. He has an inherited fear of police that’s independent from his judgment or experience. This allusion to Russian revolutionism subtly links British environments in Conrad’s novels to passionate anarchist violence and brutally repressive police states like Russia.

Chapter XI

After Mr. Vladimir and Chief Inspector Heat visited the shop, Mrs. Verloc is silent with shock while Mr. Verloc eats and drinks in their kitchen to regain his appetite. He thinks about how stupid Stevie was, walking through Greenwich Park with him to get used to the correct path he should take when delivering a bomb for Mr. Vladimir, how confident he felt using Stevie as an agent because of his training by himself,and how he would have impressed Mr. Vladimir if it wasn’t for Mrs. Verloc sewing their address into Stevie’s overcoat which led the police right to them.

He and his wife decide to go abroad for a while. Meanwhile, she remains silent and unmoving as he tries to express affection for her. He begins to complain about Mr. Vladimir and the Embassy people, but Mrs. Verloc doesn’t seem to understand what he’s saying or care much about it anyway since she is still thinking of how miserable her life has been with him and Stevie gone from their lives now that they are dead; she realizes that without Stevie around anymore, she no longer feels bound by Mr. Verloc either because they have no more reason or need to stay together any longer than necessary so long as there is nothing left between them at all anymore; therefore, when Mr. Verloc leaves the room after telling her that he will be going out soon on an errand himself in order not to raise suspicion with anyone who might see him leaving the house alone (as if someone would notice anyway), Mrs. Verloc goes upstairs into their bedroom where she changes clothes before heading outside herself through the front door of their home which was left unlocked behind them earlier upon entering it together just minutes ago

Mr. Verloc tries to calm down his wife, who is acting a bit strangely. He doesn’t worry too much about her reticence and unresponsiveness because he thinks she’s just having an off day. However, eventually Mr. Verloc gets upset that Mrs. Verloc is being so quiet and feels like she’s doing it on purpose as a way of torturing him, which upsets him even more than before. Eventually Mr. Verloc sinks into pleasant exhaustion in the parlor while Mrs. Verloc sits nearby with a knife in her hand for some time before killing him by stabbing him repeatedly until he dies from blood loss after bleeding out all over the floor (or something). Afterward, when she realizes what has happened, Mrs. Verloc runs out of the room screaming hysterically.

The novel has several failed conversations, but the one between Winnie Verloc and her husband is especially dysfunctional. Mr. Verloc tries to explain things to his wife, but she’s so stunned that she doesn’t understand what he’s saying.

In fact, we can think of her as the perfect anarchist because she is not limited to any particular ideology. She attacks all aspects of society that are unjust, which is what anarchists do. Although this may seem admirable at first glance, it also has a dark side: there’s no limit on how far she’ll go in order to achieve justice for those who are oppressed or marginalized.

In “The Secret Agent”, Conrad makes Winnie commit an act of violence and narrates the scene in such a way that it seems as impersonal as possible. We do not hear her thoughts, and when we do, everything seems to be passing like a dream. This is precisely the kind of violence Mr. Vladimir predicted would shock society – one without any comprehensible motive. The passage of the stabbing itself is worth quoting in full to see how this approach works:

Mrs. Verloc had gone mad and murdered her husband, who was a secret agent for the government. He had time to plan his defense but not enough time to move before she stabbed him in the chest with a knife. The murder of Mr. Verloc is described as being leisurely because it took place over several minutes and he had time to think about his next move, which would have been to grab Mrs. Verloc’s arm so that he could push her away from him or hit her with a chair if they were close together at that point in the attack on Mr. Verloc by Mrs. Verloc, but they weren’t close together during this part of the attack on Mr. Verloc by Mrs.Verloc when she stabbed him in the chest with a knife; therefore, there wasn’t enough time for Mr.,Verlocto defend himself against his wife’s attack on him because it happened too quickly after he turned around slightly in bed while saying “Don’t” before dying without moving any limbs just like what happens when someone dies peacefully in their sleep (193).

The story switches from Mr. Verloc’s perspective to his wife’s, and then it expands outward to an impersonal viewpoint. It is only when Mrs. Verloc realizes that her husband has been shot that she actually feels anything; before that, there was just a kind of energy in the description—a memory pouring through her mind.

Chapter XII

Winnie Verloc stops running after stabbing her husband in the parlor. She is filled with horror and dread, because she knows that murderers are hanged. She considers suicide by jumping off a bridge, but realizes that she has no way of supporting herself if she runs away to Europe.

When Winnie bumps into Ossipon, she begs for his help. She tells him that her husband has died and that she is feeling sad about it. Ossipon thinks that Verloc was the one who died in the bomb outrage, so he is surprised with his luck to gain her confidence and seemingly affection. He begins to call her by a nickname “Winnie” which makes her happy.

When Verloc returns from the bank, he is shot by his wife. She then calls Ossipon to help her escape with the money she took from the bank and they go to Brett Street in order to turn off the lights of their shop. As Ossipon walks through their store, he finds that Mr. Verloc has been murdered and realizes that Mrs. Verloc killed him in order for them to escape together with all of her husband’s money. He continues on with Mrs. Verloc but jumps out onto a platform as soon as they leave London so that she can’t get away without him knowing where she was going or what she was doing next because he knew about her affair with Stevie (the young man who worked at their shop).

Analysing

After Mrs. Verloc comes to from her frenzied flight, she finally thinks clearly. However, rather than thinking with words, she thinks in pictures.

The blood on the knife was a sign that it had been used to kill someone. Mrs Verloc, who didn’t want to see things too clearly, realized she’d have to face up to this murder. She saw that there was nothing but an object—the gallows—which scared her.

It seems that Conrad could have expressed the same thing in a different way by writing something like Mrs. Verloc was scared of being executed, so she did whatever she could to avoid it because she was still young and had many things left to do with her life. Instead he chose to write it this way, which presents us with an image of how Mrs. Verloc thinks: certain compelling mental images drive her to heightened emotional states. It’s significant that when Stevie or his sister read newspaper articles about anarchists or hear them speak, they take those sensationalistic words very literally; specifically, they visualize what is said. Thus just reading about the gallows planted the recurring image of the gallows in Mrs. Verloc’s mind and any other method of escape came unmediated into her head as though thinking a thing and seeing it were not separate actions.

Mrs. Verloc feels compelled to kill her husband and commit suicide because of the various forces that are influencing her, as well as the oppressive atmosphere in London.

It suddenly occurred to her that murderers escape. They escape abroad or to California. Just names, really. The world is a big place and Mrs Verloc didn’t know what to do next. Murderers have friends and relations who help them out, but she had no one like that—she was all alone in London (a city of marvels). It would be hopeless for someone without knowledge to get out of the abyss where it rests at the bottom of a black night with its maze of streets and mass of lights off (198).

Chapter XIII

The Summary

The Professor and Comrade Ossipon discuss the aftermath of Michaelis’ death. The Professor, who has not read any newspapers since his arrival in London, argues that the weak must be eliminated so that the strong can remake society.

As they leave, Ossipon reads an article about Mrs. Verloc’s suicide in a newspaper and notices the last line: “An impenetrable mystery seems destined to hang for ever over this act of madness and despair.” He is troubled by that sentence and begins to feel sick or crazy. The Professor also leaves, but each man goes his own way into the crowd.

This chapter occurs after the two main climaxes of the novel. The first is Stevie’s death, and the second is Mr. Verloc’s death. Two characters recollect and sum up these events while Mrs. Verloc’s suicide is filtered through a newspaper report (i.e., this book). Ossipon stands for the reader in that he has no direct experience of violence but still experiences it as though he were there himself or knew someone who was involved in it directly, just like Conrad emphasizes visual immediacy as a central component to what art should be able to do in his novels.

The character Ossipon is a comrade to all of us readers. In this passage, he reads the newspaper and experiences an epiphany. This use of free indirect point of view by Conrad deserves close examination.

Comrade Ossipon was well-informed. He knew that the gangway man saw a woman in black wandering around at midnight on the quay, and he helped her board the boat. The stewardess also saw this woman, who seemed weak and ill. She was persuaded to lie down in the ladies’ cabin, but she disappeared before anyone could help her further. The next time they saw her, she was lying face-down in one of the hooded seats on deck with her eyes open but not responding to anything said to her. Comrade Ossipon learned through these conversations that there were plans for taking this sickly lady below decks because it looked like she might die soon (she had a white mask over her face). However, behind this mask of despair there was fighting against terror and fear as strong as any love of life—the kind of vigor required for resisting murder and getting off death row (225-6).

The narrator sometimes makes it clear that Ossipon is getting information from the newspaper by putting quotes around certain words. However, at other times Ossipon just knows things without any indication of how he knows them. The gravity of the situation provides a kind of suggestion that allows him to visualize and understand what’s happening with greater detail than is actually written in the story.

Book Summary: The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne
Share:

Enjoy this summary?

Subscribe to get my next book summary in your email.

Want to get smarter, faster?

Subscribe to my newsletter to get free book summaries and startup notes.
x