The Lagoon

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Tongyoo 1

Varattha Tongyoo
2202234 Introduction to the Study of English Literature
Acharn Rongrat Dusdeesurapot
September 18, 2010
Final Paper

Arsat : Life that hanging on the moral, traditional values and blind love

Joseph Conrad’s “The lagoon” portrays the life of a Malaysian man “Arsat” who afraid to live forward, just waiting for the bright future which is not likely to come, even at the dawn of the new day after the death of his wife. In this short story of Conrad, intensely describes the dramatic feeling of Arsat , suffered by his own decision which result in the sad ending of his brother and wife. As the story proceeds, it gradually revealing many point of view which have powerful effect on Arsat’s life.

Arsat, as an ordinary man, has affection toward Diamelen (his lover, who was previously a servant of the Rajah's wife). But his desire some how not easily to be completed. As one’s life is not only depend on itself, it has to adjust itself with others life in the world, containing variation of livings. Social is one of the powerful factor that effecting Arsat’s life, if there is no social there might not have the elopement. Social always has its own way of administration such as social judgement and traditional values which were used as an organization of the society. Arsat, too, is one of the victim of the society because of its self-organization, being a victim in traditional valuation bringing the great mistake to his decision. In Conrad’s works, he always contrasts Eastern and Western attitude, describing Western as an area of modern civilization and Eastern as an ancient civilization. Therefore, Eastern countries are full of out-of-date, undeveloped and impractical tradition. The duty of Arsat as the sword-bearers of the Ruler has been entailing from time to time and make it way to him, liking a slave status. So, for him and his family, this duty can’t be denied, these can be assumed that nowadays Eastern still has the unreasonable rule that opposing people from their individual right. This make Arsat has no choice but conform to this Ruler’s principle. Because every country , in old days , the servant have to serve the royalty with there life forever, although at the present this tradition is likely to be discarded for a long time. The bad thing is when Arsat can’t accept this tradition anymore, the people or the royalty have to hunt him down before other will follow his path.

The elopement of Arsat and Diamelen breaks the rule of Rajah ---the word rajah means "king", the leaders of local tribes and old kingdoms had that title before Indonesia became an independent nation---being disloyal and these was the grand turning point of his life. The story takes place in Malaysia which has “Islam” as the national religion, even though it doesn’t has any precise taboo in Islam’s rule, still the elopement is shouldn’t be done in any religion. It causes bother for everyone who evolved and it never

Tongyoo 2

lasts so long, because the lover have no marital rights and no family support. The basic unit of Islamic society is the family, and Islam defines the obligations and legal rights of family members in marriage. Marriage in Islam is a civil contract which consists of an offer and acceptance between two qualified parties in the presence of two witnesses. In Arsat’s case, both of their family can be presented as the royalty—both King and Queen—for Diamelen, as a servant of the...
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