The Lagoon as a Setting for Romance and Tragedy in Literature


The lagoon is a geographical setting that has been utilized in literature for centuries as a backdrop for romance and tragedy. Its tranquil and idyllic appearance often evokes a sense of peace and serenity, making it an ideal setting for love to blossom. However, its seemingly tranquil exterior can also veil underlying dangers, making it a perfect setting for tragic events to unfold. From ancient myths to modern-day novels, the lagoon has been a popular choice for authors to explore the themes of love and loss.

One of the earliest examples of the lagoon as a setting for romance and tragedy can be found in Greek mythology. In the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe, two lovers who were forbidden to be together, would secretly meet in a hidden cave beside a lagoon, where they could declare their love for each other without fear of being caught. However, their story ends tragically when Thisbe mistakenly believes Pyramus to be dead and takes her own life. When Pyramus discovers her body, he too takes his own life out of grief. The lagoon in this myth serves as a place for the lovers to escape societal restrictions and be together, but ultimately leads to their tragic demise.

In Shakespeare’s play, Othello, the lagoon plays a significant role in the tragic events of the story. The lagoon serves as a symbol of Venice’s exoticism and sense of adventure, which initially attracts Othello and Desdemona to each other. However, it also becomes a place of jealousy and betrayal, as Iago manipulates Othello by suggesting that Desdemona is having an affair with another man, Cassio, on the banks of the lagoon. This manipulation ultimately leads to the tragic deaths of Othello, Desdemona, and Cassio, all of whom meet their demise near the lagoon.

In more recent literature, the lagoon continues to serve as a setting for romance and tragedy. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the lagoon symbolizes the American Dream and the promise of a better future, with Gatsby’s mansion located just across the water. However, it also becomes the site of a tragic love story between Gatsby and Daisy, who are unable to be together due to societal expectations and their different social classes. The lagoon, with its glittering lights and magical atmosphere, becomes a place of hope and longing for the romantic couple, but ultimately leads to their tragic separation and Gatsby’s untimely death.

The lagoon has also been used in more contemporary literature as a setting for romance and tragedy. In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the lagoon is a forbidden place for the oppressed women of Gilead. It is a site of rebellion, where the protagonist, Offred, meets her lover and indulges in a forbidden love affair that goes against the strict rules of the society. The lagoon symbolizes freedom and escape for the characters, but also becomes a place of danger and betrayal when Offred’s lover is killed, leaving her devastated and alone.

In addition to being a setting for romance and tragedy, the lagoon also serves as a metaphor for the complexities of human relationships. Its calm and serene appearance can mask underlying depths and dangers, similar to the complexities of love and the tragedies that can result from it. The lagoon can also represent the idea that love and tragedy often go hand in hand, with the beauty of one inevitably leading to the other.

In conclusion, the lagoon has been a ubiquitous setting in literature for exploring the themes of romance and tragedy. Its tranquil and idyllic appearance contrasts with the underlying dangers and complexities that often lead to heartbreaking events. From ancient myths to modern-day novels, the lagoon continues to captivate readers and serve as a powerful literary device for exploring the depths of human emotions.