“Might and authority are given to rulers, but to all men is given love and strength and courage.”
This sentence of Joseph Conrad’s short story The Lagoon expresses the feeling of Arsat, the hero of the story, as he spoke of his love to the white man who came to stay in his hut for the night. He spoke those words in defense of his love for Diamelen.
Arsat told the white man how he had fallen in love with a woman, perhaps an attendant of the mistress of the ruler of the land. His love was deep enough to incite him to stand against the ruler. He gave the explanation for such an attitude. After all, the rulers are possessed of powers and authority and can dominate and dictate others. But all people have the right to love, to possess strength, and to show courage, though they may not exert authority and command. What Arsat implied was that he had the right to love and to defend it by his strength and courage in the face of the power or authority of the ruler.
The words bring out Arsat’s intense love that overpowered his loyalty to the ruler and induced him to defy his power and authority for the sake of his love. His expression signifies a universal truth that everyone, however poor or humble he or she may be, has the right to love and to possess strength and courage in order to defend his or her love. The emphasis is here laid on the strength of love that is spontaneous and overweighs all other elements.