Character of Arsat in Joseph Conrad's THE LAGOON
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The Malayan native, Arsat, in Conrad's story, The Lagoon is a man who suffers from a moral dilemma, a soul-eating sense of guilt.Diamelen was his world of love with whom he wanted to escape to a country where death is unknown. Arsat and his brother were men endowed with great courage and a spirit of adventure. Arsat'sbrother stood by Arsat's side and sacrificed his life so that Arsatcould escape with his beloved to safety. At a very critical juncture when Arsat had Diamelen in the boat and they were just about to steer clear of the pursuers, Arsat's brother holding the pursuers in check with a gun was being overpowered and put to death. Arsat'sbrother called Arsat by his name and sought his brotherly support, but Arsat chose to escape with his love to some destination where there is no shadow of death.
Ever since living with Diamelen beside the lagoon in the forests,Arsat suffers from a sense of guilt, holding himself responsible for his brother's death. When Diamelen too dies of some strange disease, Arsat is totally disillusioned, doubly weighed with the burden of guilt. He can see nothing although the nocturnal darkness of the jungle is considerably removed by the morning sunshine.
Arsat's tragedy is one of love and betrayal, of impulse and infatuation. He pays the penalty of a wrong moral choice, his error being the choice to buy love at the cost of integrity.
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