Environmental Themes in Lagoon-Centric Literature


Environmental themes and symbolism have long been recurring elements in literature, reflecting the relationship between humans and nature. One specific area where this is prevalent is in lagoon-centric literature, a genre that explores the unique ecosystems and cultures found in and around lagoons. From the mysticism of lagoons to the impact of human actions on these delicate ecosystems, these themes have been masterfully explored by various authors throughout history.

One key environmental theme in lagoon-centric literature is the idea of the lagoon as a mystical or enchanted place. This is seen in works such as “The Lagoon” by Joseph Conrad, where the lagoon is described as a place of “bewitchment” and “enchantment”. This theme is also present in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, who viewed lagoons as portals to a fantastical world. In her poem “With the Luminous Lagoon in Us”, Dickinson writes, “…we shall float in the enchantment of the lagoon, our souls alight with its luminosity”. This mystical portrayal of lagoons reflects the idea of these natural formations being magical and otherworldly, untouched by human influence.

However, this mystical portrayal also serves to highlight the fragility of these ecosystems. Lagoons are often under threat from human activities such as pollution, overfishing, and development. This theme is depicted in Karen Tei Yamashita’s novel “Tropic of Orange”, where the characters are faced with the looming destruction of the Laguna de Santa Rosa in California due to unsustainable development. The lagoon in this novel becomes a symbol of the consequences of human actions and the need for responsible stewardship of the environment.

Moreover, the lagoon itself can serve as a powerful metaphor for the impact of colonialism and industrialization on the natural world. In works like Gabriel García Márquez’s “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother”, the lagoon represents the untouched, idyllic past before the arrival of outsiders who exploit its resources and disrupt its balance. This is also seen in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, where the lagoon is a symbol of the island’s isolation and the characters’ relationship with the colonized land. In both works, the lagoon becomes a representation of the detrimental effects of human expansion and dominance on the environment.

Another key environmental theme in lagoon-centric literature is the interconnectedness of all living beings. Lagoons are home to a diverse array of plants, animals, and humans, all dependent on each other for survival. This interconnectedness is explored in Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient”, where the lagoon serves as a symbol of the characters’ relationships and the delicate balance of life and death. The characters’ emotional struggles are mirrored in the physical struggles of the lagoon, highlighting the intricate connections between all living things.

Furthermore, lagoon-centric literature often tackles the issue of environmental justice. In Caribbean literature, particularly in the works of writers like Derek Walcott and Edwidge Danticat, lagoons are used to reflect the struggle of marginalized communities against exploitation and unequal distribution of resources. The lagoons in these works become a symbol of the injustices faced by these communities, such as overfishing and pollution, and the need for sustainable and equitable use of natural resources.

In conclusion, lagoon-centric literature is a rich and vast genre that delves into various environmental themes and issues. From the mystical and enchanting to the fragile and interconnected, lagoons serve as powerful symbols in literature, reflecting the complexities and relationships between humans and the natural world. These themes provide a deeper understanding of our role in preserving and protecting these delicate ecosystems, making lagoon-centric literature not only highly specialized and logical, but also highly relevant in today’s society.