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The setting of Malayan forests does function as vey much integral to the story of Arsat imprisoned in an isolation of guilt & remorse in Conrad's The Lagoon.
The natural setting consists of dark jungle 'bewitched into an immobility perfect and final' & the mysterious lagoon at the edge of which stands the old, impoverished hut where Arsat used to live with his beloved, Diamelen. The meticulously detailed out forests, bereft of all motion and impregnated with a sense of evil, the stagnant pool of water, all the hushed and intricate intonations of the night, as the Malay tells his story of love-passion-escape-betrayal to the white man, build up an appropriate atmosphere from the sunset to the sunrise the next morning.
The setting in Conrad's story is perfectly attuned to the theme of moral default that Arsat suffers from ever since the death of his brother and his arrival with Diamelen in the jungle. The poisoned and mischief-ridden forests, notwithstanding the protective 'nibong palms' inclined over Arsat's cottage, and the stagnant lagoon covered with the shroud of late-night mist wonderfully relate to the account of human guilt, moral alienation & retribution in the form of Diamelen's death.
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