Joseph Conrad’s "The Lagoon" Relates Arsat’s Exile and Loneliness

Joseph Conrad holds a particular attraction for present-day readers for his extensive biographical and critical attention. In his works elements of fatalism and nihilism well establishes to postmodern literature and modern life. Citing that precept, here too, Joseph reworked his memories of his Malay trip into his  story The Lagoon, a highly symbolic work that explores the central character, Arsat’s living, learning, and realizing through the central metaphor of a journey to the stagnant lagoon.

Conrad, who himself experienced exile and loneliness as a child, wrote numerous stories about isolated characters. In Fact, The Lagoon is the story about   a white man travelling through an Indonesian rain-forest and his chance meeting with his Malay friend, Arsat. The whiteman upon arriving Arsat’s cottage,   finds Arsat distraught, for his lover is dying. Arsat tells the distant and rather silent white man a story of his past. Arsat’s exile and loneliness is told through the words of passion, guilt and remorse. With the elements of realism, adventure, and romanticism it states broadly the human passion and the abyss, solitude, futility and the world of illusions.

The much-heralded Arsat is the object of the author's (Here the White Man) speculations, aspirations, and anticipations as he stays up to the cottage of Arsat. Just like the waves of the lagoon, which has been estranged from the sea, time has got locked up in the guilt-shame cycle and has stopped running for Arsat. The tale of Arsat’s elopement with Diamelen by the assistance of his brother is a pure romance rarely paralleled in real life. Through a driving zeal of love, Arsat and his brother had braved the mighty Inchi Midah’s fury. They escaped denying the ruler’s sword at night. Although Arsat and his beloved escaped, Arsat’s brother died en route courageous battle. Arsat has narrated the story of how he prioritized his love over responding to his brothers cries for help. And even though he thought that running away would give him everlasting love, it hasn’t. The remorse and guilt of not helping his brother has never left Arsat. Arsat, the protagonist oscillates and vacillates of two extreme ends of love- love to brother and love to his beloved. He has forsaken the call of brother’s last lamentable cry to quench the thrust of love in Diamelen. In the conclusion, however, when she breathes her last, he finds himself in a hoax situation of disillusionment.

Perhaps he looks towards Diamelen’s death as a kind of way of release from the cycle; for, with her death he loses the thing, for which he had betrayed his brother, and feels punished.  Man does not contemplate the mortality of life when blinded by youth and courage.   Arsat too has been veiled by the illusion that love is worth fighting and sacrificing for. Arsat, like all men, clung to the illusion of Utopia and “a country where death is forgotten—where death is unknown”   with Diamelen, and later finds that the guilt of his betrayal both to his Rajah and his brother would hang over him like the darkness of the night. In an insight into the heart of man, Arsat thus begs peace of mind: “In the searching clearness of crude sunshine he was still standing before the house, he was still looking through the great light of a cloudless day into the hopeless darkness of the world.” Even though the scene at the end of the short story is of bright morning without any cloud in the sky, the world looks dark for Arsat as he sees no hope and no happiness.

Joseph Conrad The Lagoon is a tale of voyage to the heart. The voyage to Lagoon becomes a descent into an underworld of heart, in which Arsat is both captive and creator, and from which he barely escapes Arsat’s stagnation and his troublous emotions --his maze of illusions find some light at last. Arsat philosophizes a change and realization. It is his insight knowledge of life and death.

 The hollow conventions through which people seek to mold the universe to their own specifications of emotions are realized by Arsat. He is out of maze. Morning light begins to drive out the darkness of the forest. An eagle soars heavenward. He is no more in opacity. Being an eagle, he soars high into the heavenly realization of relations and relativity.

My photo

An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

"Dear Readers/ Students, I am a huge fan of books, English Grammar & Literature. I write this blog to instill that passion in you." 

Popular Posts

Analysis of Mulk Raj Anand’s Story, "The Lost Child": Accepted Part of Our Multicultural Neighborhood in the World

Dr. West’s New Method of Teaching English :Its Merits and Demerits

G.B. Shaw’s Radio Talk, ‘Spoken English and Broken English’:Broken English’s Relevance in Today’s English Spoken World

Brief Analysis of R.K Narayan’s ‘Engine Trouble’: Greater Simplicity of Plot and Language, even as it Develops a Greater Complexity of Meaning to Exhibit the Domain of India

Critical Appreciation of Philip Larkin’s Poem, "The North Ship": Life Award for Best Philosophical Access

Critical Analysis of Rabindranath Tagore’s Story 'Kabuliwala': Love and Waiting

Analysis of Virginia Woolf's Essay "Modern Fiction"

Of Studies by Francis Bacon -- the Theme and Style of the Essay

Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones as a Picaresque Novel: ‘comic – epic in prose’

Critical Analysis of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Where The Mind Is Without Fear”