"Sir Ethelred"

An illustration showing Ethelred the Unready from a manuscript dating from around 1000
Public DomainAn illustration showing Ethelred the Unready from a manuscript dating from around 1000

Conrad’s choice of name for the Under-Secretary may be a reference to Ethelred the Unready, an eleventh century English King. His title “Unready” comes from a mistranslation of the Old English word “unraed” (badly advised), a contradiction of the meaning of “Ethlered” (noble advice). Perhaps Conrad is inviting readers to question the sagacity of this much-respected government official?