Environmental Themes in Literature: The Impact of Lakes on Characters and Stories


Environmental Themes in Literature: The Impact of Lakes on Characters and Stories in Literature

As humans, we have always had a deep connection to water. From the earliest civilizations, people have been drawn to bodies of water such as lakes for their beauty, as a source of sustenance, and as a means of transportation. However, lakes are not just physical entities; they also hold powerful symbolic significance in literature. Throughout the centuries, lakes have been used as a setting, a theme, and a symbol to convey important messages about the human condition and our relationship with the environment. In this article, we will explore the impact of lakes on characters and stories in literature, and how these themes reflect the current state of our environment.

One of the most prevalent themes associated with lakes in literature is their peaceful and tranquil nature. We often see characters seeking solace and refuge near lakes, using them as a means of escape from the chaos and stress of daily life. For example, in Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” the protagonist chooses to live by Walden Pond, a small lake, in order to live a simple and contemplative life away from society. This lake serves as a symbol of inner peace and reflection, as Thoreau writes, “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

Similarly, in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” the monster finds solace and comfort in nature, particularly in the secluded Lake Como. This peaceful and isolated setting allows the monster to reflect on his own existence and attain a better understanding of the world around him. The lake becomes a refuge for him, representing a sense of belonging and acceptance in contrast to the rejection he experiences from humans. This use of the lake symbolizes the connections between humans and the natural world, and highlights the profound impact that nature can have on our emotional well-being.

Moreover, lakes are often used as a symbol of transformation and reflection in literature. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” the protagonist Hester Prynne is often found near a body of water, particularly a lake. These moments of self-reflection often lead to pivotal moments in her character development. The lake symbolizes her inner turmoil and struggles, mirroring the constant conflicts she faces in the society she lives in. It also represents her ability to evolve and grow as a person, as seen in the final scene when she returns to the lake after years of living in isolation, and finally finds peace within herself.

In addition to being a symbol of transformation, lakes also serve as a reminder of the fragility of the environment and the responsibility we have towards protecting it. In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” the protagonist Santiago is an old and experienced fisherman who has a deep reverence for the sea. However, when he finally catches a giant marlin, he realizes that he has killed a beautiful and majestic creature. The sea in this story represents both a source of life and a force to be respected, and the lake symbolizes the delicate balance between man and nature. As Santiago reflects on his actions, he acknowledges the consequences of his efforts to conquer the sea, reminding us of the impact our actions can have on the environment.

In conclusion, the use of lakes in literature goes beyond its physical beauty and serves as a powerful literary device to convey important themes and messages. Through these examples, we can see how lakes are used to represent peace, transformation, self-reflection, and the relationship between humans and the environment. As literature continues to evolve, we will likely see more writers using lakes as a means to explore these themes and address current environmental concerns. As readers, we can reflect on the impact of lakes on characters and stories in literature, and the significant role they play in shaping our perception of the world around us. We must remember to cherish and protect these important bodies of water, not only for their beauty, but also for their profound symbolism.