Love hurts

Finding a soulmate and discovering what true love feels like is something hopefully we all can experience in our life. However, attempts to finding this passion may create unforeseen dilemmas. Accordingly, my question is: Did Laura rejecting Harold have a bigger impact on Harold or in turn have a bigger impact on her work?

I think Harold getting rejected definitely impacted him, but inevitably impacted Laura’s work more. When Harold saw that none of his emails were being delivered and that the address she gave him was a lie, he wrote a love letter, put it in a bottle, and dropped it in the sea to hopefully reach the Caribbean. As time passed that bottle was making its way to the Caribbean. However, the effect it had on aquatic life is saddening. AS Byatt states, “The mollymawk tore at it, and carried away a┬ásmeared strip to feed to its chicks, who would die with bellies distended by this stuff. The cap detached itself, and was swallowed by a green turtle which mistook it for a glass eel. When this turtle choked and died, the cap was picked from its remains by another┬áturtle, which also choked.” Harold’s message in the bottle ended up killing lots of animals in the ocean. Laura’s job involves eels and other marine life, so having these animals die impacts her work. In addition to the bottle killing marine life, Harold ended up marring a different women. Showing that he moved on. Laura rejecting Harold definitely impacted him, but not as much as it impacted her work as if she was truthful with her address than a couple of animals lives would have been saved.

3 thoughts on “Love hurts

  1. I had a very similar interpretation to the theme you described in your post. It is truly ironic that because Laura, a marine biologist, gave Harold a fake address and phone number, so then he decided to send a message in a bottle across the ocean, which then in return had great damage to the to marine life and aquatic ecosystems. However, I don’t believe this necessarily impacted her work as you had mentioned. Rather, it ironically conflicted with her values. I would ask this, what is a greater loss, spending your life chasing someone who doesn’t love you in return, or destroying nature by human action without even knowing? I believe both are experienced in Sea Story. You had also mentioned Harold married another woman. As said in the last paragraph of Sea Story, “Harold married a fellow poet, had three daughters whom he loved, strode along Filey Beach collecting plastic bags and debris, retired and died” (Byatt, 5). I find this to be the most powerful line AS Byatt poses in her whole story. We were given a whole life story, love story, and story of a bottle traveling across the ocean, and then the next 50-60 years of Harold’s life were summarized in one line.

  2. I agree with you that attempting to discover true love in life may inevitably cause one to experience hardship, as love may create feelings of desperation or vulnerability. However, I do not believe that the rejection by Laura had a significant impact on her work. Rather, I believe this rejection impacted Harold substantially as his attitude towards the sea seems to shift throughout the course of the short story.

    Growing up, Harold was intrigued by the beauty and wonders of the ocean. When he went to Oxford, he found himself struggling to be away from the sea, as “its absence was peculiarly painful” (Byatt, 2). His mother, a poet, constantly recited poems to him to express the sempiternal love they possessed for the sea. However, when Harold fell in love with Laura, he seemed to experience an internal change in his love for the sea. When he placed the letter inside the bottle and dropped it into the water, he demonstrates vulnerability, desperation, and hopelessness. Although he once viewed the ocean as the most wondrous entity, he essentially is contributing to the anthropogenic pollution of the ocean with the bottle: “What remained was washed and rubbed into nurdles which joined the mass of other pale beads” (Byatt, 5). A.S. Byatt emphasizes the hopelessness and depth of the pollution issue, which compares to the hopelessness that Harold is feeling at this point.

    Eventually, though, Harold’s attitude towards the ocean shifts again to his initial feeling of love and affection. He demonstrates care and consideration for the sea as he did when he was younger while he “strode along Filey Beach collecting plastic bags and debris” (Byatt, 5). Perhaps he realized that the ocean was essentially his true love and that he must repay for the inconsideration he demonstrated. Therefore, I believe the rejection created a larger impact on Harold, although it did influence Laura’s work as well.

  3. As the author compared Laura to the sea, he made her as unstable and mysterious in her own way, which influenced their relationship. Such stories often lead to broken hearts, divorces, and problems that were shown through the harm of that bottle to the sea. When I used the images of Laura and Harold in my essay about divorce and the end of a relationship, I developed the idea of what would have happened if they had stayed together. I got the idea from working with on a similar motif. I came to the conclusion that it would have ended just as badly, if not worse, when one partner takes advantage of you by playing on your feelings.