This is an introduction for a paper written for one of my California State University graduate school courses.
The Shadow Knows
Before the advent of television, radio was the
rage. Huddled around pre-transistor radios the size of furniture,
fans of The Shadow
hoped they had precisely tuned in their local station before the
broadcast of the phrase, “Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of
men? The Shadow knows.” The maniacal laughter that followed
touched a chord within Shadow fans, and they knew that some poor
wrongdoer was about to come face to masked face with someone who would
hold them accountable for their evil ways and provide some
entertainment in the process. Perhaps those listeners, held spellbound
by the Shadow’s methods, unconsciously feared that fictional man might
discover some secret aspect of their lives, scraping off the thin
veneer of the self, the persona they showed to the world, and exposing
their cheaper psychological plywood in all its textural ugliness.
Readers of The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad had a less fearful protagonist than listeners to The Shadow,
but the process of digging deeper than the surface to find something
ugly or, at least, unwanted beneath remains the same. In his
short novel, Conrad explores the Self and the necessity of facing its
darker shadow side before one can be satisfied.
used the historical method to get to my thesis. Of course, no
real history of a shadow exists besides the implied origin following
"and there was light." So, I looked for the most recognizable
connection to a shadow of any kind. While you probably have never
heard of this old radio program, my audience was a professor older than
myself--imagine that--and she recognized the popular allusion.
Double-spaced in the MLA format, this was all but three lines of the
first page of a five-page paper.