Unrequited Love

In AS Byatt’s, Sea Story, the ocean and the water hold a special place in Harold’s heart. The slightest idea of Harold being away from the sea cripples him and makes him feel a sense of depression and loneliness. This idea of unhappiness is encountered while Harold is away studying in Oxford and is unfortunately surrounded by nothing but land. It is clear that Harold depends on the ocean as a source for happiness and assistance. This is evident when Harold depends on the sea to use its currents to send a bottled love letter to Laura, but Harold’s actions end up damaging the purity of the ocean. Does Harold’s indirect actions of littering due to his dependency upon water as a messenger reflect society’s one-sided relationship with the ocean?

We, humans, depend on the ocean and find love and joy in water as much as Harold. Water is one of the most critical sources to help mankind continue and prosper. The idea of having water be a common item that society can buy anywhere, distracts people from appreciating it more than we should. People tend to forget what the world would be like if society did not have water or oceans. The quote, “The cap detached itself, and was swallowed by a green turtle which mistook it for a glass eel” (Byatt), allows the reader to see the result of Harold’s actions. Harold and society both depend on the ocean for assistance, but peoples’ actions only continue to weaken the ocean with trash and waste. Oceans present humans with so many vital things, while humans present the oceans with filth and trash that only makes our most abundant source less common. Just because Harold might have a deeper connection to the ocean than someone else does not give him any right to harm it for his own personal reasons. Both, Harold and society, must not think of water as a resource that can help individuals but as a resource humans can give back to by being more environmentally friendly.

4 thoughts on “Unrequited Love

  1. I agree with your notion that people today continue to look over and pollute water, the arguably most important resource and a necessity for life, and not recognize the effects that this has. Water provides our world with so much and it undeniably needs to conserved and treated with the utmost care. And while I do acknowledge that Harold does seem to have a deeper connection to the seas than most people do, I do not believe he knew what results could possibly be generated. Harold seemed oblivious to the whole situation, blinded by his many rejections on his quest to find his “true love”. In his attempt to do this, he harmed something he has cherished his whole life, the ocean and its creatures. I don’t know if he really thought he had this right, or rather was just looking for some kind of hope in another thing he loved just as deeply.

    I believe your message of sustaining the oceans and solution of changing the thoughts of society brings up a significant issue that has been present in the world for years now. Educating the public about global water problems is extremely important because as you stated, people are oblivious to the effects their actions take, just as Harold was. Water is and will continue to be one of the most vital resources and ensuring its conservation will be a major task of future generations to come. It all starts with an individual. I urge you to continue justifying this message as it is very important and a big theme of “Sea Story.”

  2. I agree with your argument, in particular your last sentence where you form a connection between Harold and current society. Humans mistakably consider the ocean to be a dumpster and fail to realize the detrimental effects of one simple pollutant. Harold’s exposure to the water has blinded him from witnessing the damage that mankind has imposed on the ocean.

    That being said, it is interesting to picture life without the magnificent oceans mankind is fortunate to have. In your post you mention,”This idea of unhappiness is encountered while Harold is away studying in Oxford and is unfortunately surrounded by nothing but land”(Festekjian). This moment in the story adds a perspective about how water is a limited resource which is why protection of the ocean is crucial. In the text it states,”His days in Oxford were the first he had spent away from the sea and its absence was peculiarly painful”(Byatt, 2). The connection that you formed between Harold and society portrays that life without the ocean would be just as painful for society as it is for Harold which is why the ocean needs protection. Therefore, adding the perspective that oceans are a limited resource would make your argument stronger.

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