The Secret Agent

by

Joseph Conrad

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Comrade Alexander Ossipon Character Analysis

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 The Professor. He is a medical school dropout with an interest in pseudo-scientific social theories. Ossipon also enjoys women (especially those with money) and has always been attracted to Winnie Verloc, though she ignores him. After the Greenwich bombing, Ossipon latches onto Winnie in hopes of getting Verloc’s money. When Ossipon discovers that Winnie has killed Verloc, however, he becomes terrified of the whole affair. He helps Winnie escape to France but flees with Verloc’s money at the last minute. After news of Winnie’s suicide (she jumps overboard into the English Channel), Ossipon can’t stop thinking about her.

Comrade Alexander Ossipon Quotes in The Secret Agent

The The Secret Agent quotes below are all either spoken by Comrade Alexander Ossipon or refer to Comrade Alexander Ossipon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Secret Agent published in 1907.
Chapter 4 Quotes

"I have the means to make myself deadly, but that by itself, you understand, is absolutely nothing in the way of protection. What is effective is the belief those people have in my will to use the means. […] Therefore I am deadly […] Their character is built upon conventional morality. It leans on the social order. Mine stands free from everything artificial. They are bound in all sorts of conventions. They depend on life, which, in this connection, is a historical fact surrounded by all sorts of restraints and considerations, a complex organised fact open to attack at every point; whereas I depend on death, which knows no restraint and cannot be attacked. My superiority is evident."

Related Characters: The Professor (speaker), Comrade Alexander Ossipon, Mr. Adolf Verloc
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

"You revolutionists," the other continued, with leisurely self-confidence, "are the slaves of the social convention, which is afraid of you; slaves of it as much as the very police that stands up in the defence of that convention. Clearly you are, since you want to revolutionise it. It governs your thought, of course, and your action too, and thus neither your thought nor your action can ever be conclusive […] The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket. Revolution, legality—counter moves in the same game […] at bottom identical.”

Related Characters: The Professor (speaker), Comrade Alexander Ossipon
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

She started forward at once, as if she were still a loyal woman bound to that man by an unbroken contract. Her right hand skimmed slightly the end of the table, and when she had passed on towards the sofa the carving knife had vanished without the slightest sound from the side of the dish. […] But Mr Verloc did not see that. He was lying on his back and staring upwards. He saw partly on the ceiling and partly on the wall the moving shadow of an arm with a clenched hand holding a carving knife. It flickered up and down. Its movements were leisurely. They were leisurely enough for Mr Verloc to recognise the limb and the weapon.

Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:
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Comrade Alexander Ossipon Character Timeline in The Secret Agent

The timeline below shows where the character Comrade Alexander Ossipon appears in The Secret Agent. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Comrade Ossipon, the primary author of the F.P. pamphlets, sits in front of the fire. He has... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Ossipon is a medical school dropout who has since worked as a wandering lecturer on various... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...to unchangeable economic laws, propaganda—the education of the masses—must be carefully carried out. In response, Ossipon argues that the laws aren’t written in stone, and that the emotional manipulation of the... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...elderly woman, and Michaelis, too, is supported by a wealthy old lady in the countryside. Ossipon, for his part, depends on naïve young women with savings accounts. Verloc, more inclined to... (full context)
Chapter 4
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Foreigners and the Modern City Theme Icon
Ossipon is sitting at a table in a dark, vaulted hall with chandeliers and medieval paintings.... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Ossipon questions The Professor about his “stuff,” and the man claims that he unhesitatingly gives some... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...not. His personality is based on freedom from artificial constraints, and indeed upon death. When Ossipon compares him to Yundt and the other revolutionary propagandists, The Professor sneers; those men have... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
The Professor explains that his goal is simply “a perfect detonator.” He notes Ossipon’s wince and says that revolutionaries can’t bear the idea of something definite. Revolutionaries, by definition,... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Ossipon changes the subject. He tells The Professor that a man was blown up on Greenwich... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Ossipon says that he knew nothing about a plot of this nature, and it’s bound to... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Ossipon asks The Professor if he can describe the person to whom he gave his explosives,... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Ossipon wonders what to do next—the F.P. revolutionaries must disassociate themselves from the incident. He wants... (full context)
Chapter 9
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...of Verloc’s friends—like Mr. Michaelis, who is on his way to the country, and Comrade Ossipon, who made Winnie blush faintly. Stevie, she tells Verloc, moped a lot in his absence.... (full context)
Chapter 12
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Moments later, Winnie finds unexpected help: Comrade Ossipon is peering at her through her black veil, believing she looks drunk. To Ossipon’s surprise,... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Ossipon tells Winnie that he read about the bombing in the paper, and he decided to... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Winnie says she always ignored Ossipon because she was a respectable wife, “till he made me what I am.” But as... (full context)
Foreigners and the Modern City Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Ossipon feels stunned by this ferocious statement; he doesn’t know what Verloc could have done, but... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Foreigners and the Modern City Theme Icon
Comrade Ossipon wonders how Winnie came to know about the bombing (he doesn’t believe that Verloc would... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Winnie begs Ossipon to flee with her to the Continent (mainland Europe). Ossipon, who feels that the whole... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Ossipon is used to excitable women and asks no further questions. He suddenly remembers that a... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
In the middle of his terror, Ossipon notices the hat upended on the floor. From there, his eyes gradually move toward Verloc’s... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Ossipon finally gets the parlor light shut off, trying to accept what’s happened. He doesn’t believe... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Ossipon imagines Winnie running into the street and sending the police after him as the murderer.... (full context)
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
At the station, they follow their plan and are soon concealed in a train compartment. Ossipon speaks to the guard to make sure they won’t be disturbed during the trip. Winnie... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
When Ossipon mentions the resemblance between Winnie and Stevie, Winnie finally breaks into helpless sobs. Ossipon encourages... (full context)
Chapter 13
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Comrade Ossipon has come to visit The Professor in the ugly, spartan room in East London that... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Ossipon suggests that they go get a beer. As they ride the omnibus, Ossipon admits that... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
As Ossipon and The Professor drink, Ossipon pulls an old newspaper from his pocket and rereads a... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
When The Professor is about to leave, Ossipon asks him what he knows of “madness and despair.” The Professor says there are no... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Foreigners and the Modern City Theme Icon
Ossipon continues to sit there, repeating the words “An impenetrable mystery […] this act of madness... (full context)