The word ‘Lagoon’ taken from the Spanish word Laguna means, a lake of salty-water parted from the sea by the low sandbanks. The lagoon implies the enclosed sea-water within an area of rock or sand. This is quite common in Asiatic countries and particularly in the Malayan region.
The Lagoon is one of Conrad’s earliest short stories had a strange Malayan setting. Conrad adds the typical Malayan background of the jungle and the lagoon with purpose. The earlier portion is particularly impressive. Such with all its light and shade is well exploited to tell a tale of passion and tragic-love. The environmental impact of the theme is perceived in a number of ways.
The tropical sun is shown with its dazzling light. The sky is unclouded and seems to hang low over the stream which sparkles brightly. The bright dazzling light of the sun in the region is emphasized in the concluding portion of the story.
Diamelen passed away as the dawn approached the gloomy lagoon. Arsat stood in stark sorrow but ‘the sun showed its edge above the tree tops rising steadily’ its bright sparkling light reflected on the rippling water of the lagoon. Arsat stood lonely in the sunlight and he looked beyond the great light of a cloudless day into the darkness of a world of illusion. Conrad sharply contrasted the brilliance of sunlight with the dumb darkness of human frustration.
The Malayan stream is presented with no less vividness. There is the intense glitter of the river under sunlight with the water ‘shining smoothly, like a band of metal’. The stream with nothing but eight paddles rising and flashing regularly is well described. The lagoon itself with its gloom and ghost aspect creates a supernatural atmosphere. The still black water of the creek and the gloomy lagoon are created an unlimited horror.
Conrad gives a picturesque description of Malayan forest somber, dull, stood motionless and silent on each side of the wide stream. At the foot of the tall towering trees, trunk-less nipa palms rose from the mud of the bank and bunches of leaves are enormous and heavy that hung unstably over the brown swirl of the eddies. The bewitching effect of the whole environment is caused by the strange stillness and silence of the air and the forest all around. In a brief description Conrad gives details about every tree, every leaf, every bough, every tendril of creeper and every petal of blossoms to indicate a land of slumber and indolence. Far from the madding crowd of the modern cities. This point description of the botanic world is simply amazing. The tracery of small ferns and the tangled maze of the creepers give a sudden eye view through Conrad’s description.
Conrad’s mastery is marked not merely in his power to tell a simple tale impressively but also it is an art to give an appropriate natural background for a deeply moving human tragedy.