The Secret Agent

by

Joseph Conrad

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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 as a young locksmith for a minor role in an anarchist plot, during which a policeman was killed. He is rotund and pale with a gentle, trustful personality and humanitarian sympathies. Michaelis is mostly interested in the role of economic conditions within history, believing that the system of private ownership is beginning to self-destruct—theories he has honed during his years behind bars. Michaelis is supported by a wealthy patroness. At the time of the Greenwich bombing, Michaelis is staying in a country cottage, writing an obscure and disjointed autobiography. Stevie, to whom Michaelis has always been kind, is staying in the cottage at the time, but Michaelis remains oblivious to the bomb plot.
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Michaelis Character Timeline in The Secret Agent

The timeline below shows where the character Michaelis 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
Michaelis, a pale, fat man on parole from prison, is in Verloc’s parlor. He argues that... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...of the fire. He has curly yellow hair and high cheekbones and smokes a cigarette. Michaelis, used to talking to himself without any feedback or response in prison, keeps monologuing about... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Michaelis continues to argue that because history operates according to unchangeable economic laws, propaganda—the education of... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...lazy, like himself. He knows that Yundt is cared for by an elderly woman, and Michaelis, too, is supported by a wealthy old lady in the countryside. Ossipon, for his part,... (full context)
Chapter 5
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
...the underground; they hailed from an unlikely country station. But Inspector Heat points out that Michaelis stays in a cottage in that rural neighborhood. At the mention of Michaelis, the Assistant... (full context)
Chapter 6
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Michaelis’s patroness has connections with the Assistant Commissioner’s wife. The patroness is a rich, influential old... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Michaelis was equally distraught by the death of the policeman and by the failure of the... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
After Michaelis left that night, the patroness expressed disbelief that someone like him could be a “revolutionist.”... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
...the Assistant Commissioner tells Heat that it will be important to gather sufficient evidence against Michaelis. Heat is confident that he can get enough to satisfy the public and send Michaelis... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
The Assistant Commissioner questions Chief Inspector Heat about Michaelis’s doings, though he’s perfectly aware of them himself. Michaelis has retired to the countryside because... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
The Assistant Commissioner wants to know why, if Heat is so convinced about Michaelis, he didn’t seek Michaelis’s arrest before coming into this meeting; Heat shouldn’t toy with him... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...is annoyed at having been kept in the dark, and at Heat’s persistent belief that Michaelis is more relevant to the case at hand. He tells Heat to report back tomorrow... (full context)
Chapter 9
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...absence, she cleaned the house, managed the shop, and saw some of Verloc’s friends—like Mr. Michaelis, who is on his way to the country, and Comrade Ossipon, who made Winnie blush... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...be time for Stevie to get out of town for a while—he could stay in Michaelis’s cottage. Michaelis has always been kind to Stevie, and Winnie likes him, so she agrees.... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
...citizen. He hopes to catch Verloc off guard and maybe hear some incriminating remarks about Michaelis. (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
...Stevie’s coat. She explains that Heat can’t question Stevie because he’s in the country with Michaelis. Heat’s eyes brighten knowingly, and he questions Winnie further about Stevie. The young man who’d... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
...to make a full confession. Heat reflects on what this will mean: the exoneration of Michaelis and the exposure of The Professor’s bomb-making work, not to mention a departmental shake-up. Heat... (full context)
Chapter 10
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Foreigners and the Modern City Theme Icon
...Verloc was eager to confess. Verloc quickly told him of Vladimir’s instigation and Stevie’s involvement. Michaelis wasn’t involved and probably still doesn’t know about it, though Stevie had been staying with... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Foreigners and the Modern City Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...feels a “crusading” impulse. After going home to change, he goes to the home of Michaelis’s patroness, where his wife currently is. He greets the elderly patroness and assures her that... (full context)
Chapter 11
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...been so nervous that he’d eaten nothing all day, from the time he arrived at Michaelis’s this morning to claim Stevie. Now that the bombing and its aftermath are behind him,... (full context)
Chapter 13
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...London that The Professor has rented. The Professor tells Ossipon about his recent visit to Michaelis. Michaelis hadn’t heard anything about Verloc’s death. He only focuses on his autobiography, which lacks... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...suggests that they go get a beer. As they ride the omnibus, Ossipon admits that Michaelis’s plan is silly. However, he might not be completely wrong: 200 years from now, doctors... (full context)