Otherwise known as the Skipper of the Sephora, Captain Archbold imprisons Leggatt for killing one of his crewmen. He is weak and dishonest and demonstrates what the Captain will become if he doesn’t gain the confidence to fully command his ship. Archbold has had over thirty years’ experience yet continues to be fearful of his crew.
The Captain is the unnamed narrator of Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer.” With the exception of the Second Mate, he is the youngest man on board, has the least experience and lacks the necessary confidence to take full command of the ship. Lonely and forlorn, one dark night he pulls a naked man named Leggatt, who will turn out to be his teacher, from the dark water and hides him in his stateroom.
Leggatt, the escaped chief mate of the Sephora, is pulled from the water one evening by the Captain. He accidentally killed a crewman during a violent storm and was kept as a prisoner by Captain Archbold, the Skipper of the Sephora, before jumping overboard. It is not altogether clear that he isn’t a figment of the Captain’s imagination or indeed a ghost.
The Chief Mate
The Chief Mate, a man with “frightful whiskers,” is an earnest, painstaking sailor with a great deal of experience. He demonstrates little confidence in the Captain but comes to respect him at the end.
The Second Mate
The Second Mate is the youngest man on board and undermines the Captain by constantly questioning his orders. More than anyone else, the Captain must win his respect or be forever plagued by insecurity.
The Steward takes care of the Captain’s needs, brings him food, and cleans his clothes, and so on. The Captain must keep him from discovering Leggatt who remains hidden either in the Captain’s bed or in the bathroom. The Steward is used to create tension in the story.