The Secret Agent


Joseph Conrad

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The Secret Agent Characters

Mr. Adolf Verloc

Mr. Verloc, the novel’s protagonist (and eventual antagonist), is the titular secret agent. He lives in London with his wife of seven years, Winnie. Though he runs a shop selling pornography and contraceptives, he… read analysis of Mr. Adolf Verloc

Mrs. Winnie Verloc

Winnie is Verloc’s young wife. She married Verloc seven years ago (even though she’d loved another man more), because Verloc was willing to support Winnie’s dependents, her mother and her beloved brother Stevieread analysis of Mrs. Winnie Verloc


Stevie is Winnie’s younger brother. He lives with the Verlocs, and Winnie watches over him like a mother. Stevie has an unnamed mental disability and cannot live independently, though he can read and write… read analysis of Stevie

Mr. Vladimir

Vladimir is the First Secretary of the Embassy of an unnamed European country. He is a young man with a reputation for wit. Vladimir accuses Verloc of being lazy and insufficiently useful to the Embassy… read analysis of Mr. Vladimir

Chief Inspector Heat

Chief Inspector Heat is a detective in London’s Special Crimes Department; according to his job description, he’s an “expert in anarchist procedure.” He used to specialize in thieving, and he understood and respected professional… read analysis of Chief Inspector Heat
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The Assistant Commissioner

The Assistant Commissioner is Chief Inspector Heat’s superior and rival in the Special Crimes Department. He doesn’t enjoy his job because he must depend on his subordinates to do most of the investigation, and… read analysis of The Assistant Commissioner

Comrade Alexander Ossipon

Comrade Ossipon is a member of Verloc’s anarchist circle along with Michaelis and Yundt, Comrade Ossipon is the primary author of the Future of the Proletariat political pamphlets. Ossipon is also friends with… read analysis of Comrade Alexander Ossipon


Michaelis is a member of Verloc’s revolutionary circle. He is referred to as a “ticket-of-leave apostle,” referring to the fact that he served a prison term and is now on probation. He was arrested… read analysis of Michaelis

The Professor

The Professor is an independent anarchist and bomb-maker who provides Verloc with the explosives for the attempted Greenwich bombing. Despite his unimposing stature, he is both more confident and more dangerous than the other anarchists… read analysis of The Professor

Winnie’s Mother

Winnie and Stevie’s widowed mother lives with the Verlocs. She is stout and unwell, immobilized by swollen legs. Winnie’s mother doesn’t really understand what Winnie sees in Verloc, but she accepts their marriage… read analysis of Winnie’s Mother

Sir Ethelred

Sir Ethelred is a high-ranking politician, a secretary of state. He is a bulky man with drooping eyes. He grants the Assistant Commissioner freedom to circumvent Chief Inspector Heat in order to investigate the Greenwich… read analysis of Sir Ethelred

Cab Driver

The cabby drives the carriage that takes Winnie’s mother, along with Winnie and Stevie, to her new retirement lodgings. The driver is old and poor with a hook for a hand; his appearance… read analysis of Cab Driver
Minor Characters
Karl Yundt
Yundt is an elderly, decrepit, would-be terrorist who, with Michaelis and Comrade Ossipon, is in Verloc’s revolutionary circle.
Privy Councillor Wurmt
Wurmt works at the Embassy. He is a melancholy, near-sighted man with bushy eyebrows.
Toodles is Sir Ethelred’s young, unpaid private secretary.
Michaelis’s Patroness
The patroness is a wealthy old woman with a wide-ranging social circle. She sympathizes with and financially supports Michaelis. She also has connections with the Assistant Commissioner and Mr. Vladimir.