Laura is a foil for Harold’s love of the sea

In AS Byatt’s, Sea Story, it appears as though she uses Laura as a foil for Harold’s love for the sea. It is made abundantly clear throughout the short story that Harold has an affinity for the sea and felt a deep sense of sadness when he left his seaside home to attend Oxford. While attending Oxford, he met Laura at a bar, where he fell in love with her at first sight. The manner in which he fell in love with Laura feels reminiscent to how he fell in love with the sea, or felt an innate connection with it as soon as he was born. Accordingly, my question is as follows: Do you believe AS Byatt had Harold fall in love with Laura because she reminded him of the sea, which he missed mightily while he was away from home, or was it because she truly was the “apple of his eye?”


I would argue the former, as I believe Laura reminded him a great deal of the sea, which he so dearly missed. I make the case based off of their initial introduction. The scene is brilliantly put together as AS Byatt wrote, “When he fell in love it was an immediate shock which was at once absorbed into his inner landscape. He was fishing from his boat, beyond the end of the Brigg when she rose up beside him, a pale women in a sleek black wetsuit, like a seal, her long lovely face streaming with sea water. She trod water and smiled mildy at him and stayed to speak about the weather, the beauty of the bay.” Within the text, I believe there are several key indicators providing evidence of how Laura is intrinsically connected to the sea, which is an enormous component of why he immediately fell in love with her. First, he was on his boat fishing when he first met her. Further, he compared her to a seal, a wild ocean animal and yet another reference to the sea. He then proceeded to talk about her face streaming with sea water and they then discussed the “beauty of the bay.” The amount of references to the sea when he first met her within such a small passage shows me that there was some other factor at play when he fell in love with Laura. As such, I believe that other factor to be his longing for the sea, and Laura is the first person to remind him of it. Thus, he immediately fell in love with her.