In this concluding passage of his short story The Lagoon, Joseph Conrad focuses the profound tragedy in the life of his hero Arsat and reflects symbolically on the illusion of the human world.
Arsat’s cherished ideal of a life of love, far from the fear of death, did not materialize. Death proved too powerful and relentless and took away his love too. After the death of his dear Diamelen, Arsat realized how he had lived in a world of illusions. There could be no hope for a life of peace and love. Death seemed to him inevitable, inescapable. His world of light and love was no more. What remained behind was the dumb darkness of his profound sorrow. The sun rose and shone brightly. Arsat, deprived of his love, stood alone in the dazzling light of the sun. But the light of his life had set forever, and as such he could visualize only darkness around him. The lovely, sun-lit day had for him no consolation or cheer. He had only the stark realization of the dark reality of the world where all hopes and aspirations were illusory, unsubstantial.
The expression serves to echo the deep sorrow of the frustrated hope of Arsat’s life. What was left to him, after all his cherished visions and mad desires, was dark despair. Conrad’s story here attains the tragic intensity of human significance. The simple Malayan tale reaches here the height of a universal tragedy.