Exploring the Relationship between Human Nature and Coastal Landscapes in Literature


The relationship between human nature and coastal landscapes has been a recurring theme in literature for centuries. Coastal landscapes, with their vast shores, endless horizons, and ever-changing tides, have always captured the attention of writers and poets alike. At the same time, human nature, with its complexities and intricacies, has been a subject of great interest to authors. Therefore, it is not surprising that the exploration of the relationship between human nature and coastal landscapes has been a constant source of inspiration for many literary works.

One of the key aspects of this relationship is the human response to the coastal landscape. Writers have often depicted the coast as a place of refuge, where individuals can escape the noise and chaos of society and find solace in the quietude of nature. In William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, the character of Ariel sings, “Come unto these yellow sands, and then take hands; | Courtsied when you have, and kiss’d, | The wild waves whist.” This depiction of the coast as a sanctuary highlights the human desire for peace and tranquility in a natural environment.

On the other hand, the coast can also be portrayed as a force that challenges the human spirit. The constant battle between the sea and the land is a recurring theme in literature. In Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Old Man and the Sea, the protagonist, Santiago, is locked in an intense struggle with a marlin in the open sea. This struggle is a powerful metaphor for the human struggle for survival and perseverance in the face of harsh and unforgiving nature.

Moreover, the coastal landscape has been a setting for many coming-of-age stories in literature. The coast, with its vastness and ever-changing nature, serves as a metaphor for the uncertainties and complexities of adolescence. In Virginia Woolf’s novel, To the Lighthouse, the young protagonist, Lily Briscoe, struggles to find her identity and purpose as she spends her summers on the coast. The shifting tides and unpredictable weather reflect her own changing emotions and uncertainties as she navigates through life.

In addition to its role in shaping human behavior and emotions, the coastal landscape also serves as a character in its own right in literature. The rugged cliffs, rough seas, and untamed beauty of the coast often act as a mirror to the human psyche. In Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights, the stormy and untamed moors surrounding the coastal estate of the Earnshaw family serve as a reflection of the turbulent and tumultuous relationships within the family.

Furthermore, the relationship between human nature and coastal landscapes goes beyond the physical realm and delves into the spiritual and philosophical aspects of human existence. In Herman Melville’s novel, Moby-Dick, the sea is not just a backdrop, but a manifestation of the human quest for knowledge and self-discovery. The character of Captain Ahab, driven by his obsession with the white whale, represents the human desire to conquer and understand the unknown, often at the cost of one’s own destruction.

In conclusion, the relationship between human nature and coastal landscapes in literature is a multifaceted and complex one. It encompasses various themes such as the human desire for peace, the struggle for survival, coming-of-age, and the search for meaning and purpose in life. The coastal landscape serves as a canvas where these themes are explored and portrayed in depth. Through the lens of literature, we can gain a deeper understanding of our own relationship with the coast and how it shapes our perceptions of the world and ourselves.