Short Tales of Joseph Conrad

Mirages of Misconception: The Influence of Illusion in Joseph Conrad's The Lagoon

It is impossible to maintain a completely objective outlook on life, unaffected by personal needs, desires, and biases. Individual perceptions, no matter how grievously mistaken, strongly influence both trivial and crucial decisions. In Joseph Conrad's "The Lagoon", Arsat bases the momentous betrayal of his brother on the seemingly realistic yet devastatingly empty dream of a pure and blissful life with Diamelen. He emerges from this shattered illusion only to sink into another; even his hope for redemption by a heroic act of vengeance is but a tragic misconception. Arsat's inability to escape the deceptive trap of his own mind effectively dramatizes the idea that life is a "world of illusions" (Conrad 6).

Arsat possesses the noble characteristics of "love... strength and courage" (Conrad 3) as well as their inevitable counterparts of selfishness, greed, and cowardice. Before the emergence of these less honorable traits is catalyzed by desire, Arsat demonstrates "the faithfulness of [his] courage" (Conrad 3) to his leader and the fierce devotion of his love to his brother. However, these apparently unshakable loyalties weaken when Arsat is enticed by the mirage of love. His passion...

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