The fight between right and wrong: Exploring morality in M. L. Stedman’s novel The Light between Oceans

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The paper explores the eternal theme of morality and its effects on human thoughts and actions as depicted in M. L. Stedman’s debut novel The Light between Oceans (2012). The aim is to study how her characters, facing a demanding post-war environment, deal with morally challenging events in their lives and how they are able to fight the socially accepted concepts of what is right and what is wrong as well as the consequences of the serious decisions they make. Tom Sherbourne, a WWI veteran, settles down to his new job as lighthouse keeper and marriage with Isabel, but instead of finding peace, he faces several moral dilemmas which create a cold distance between him and his wife, as well as between his pre-war and actual self. In this sense, the paper tries to describe what Stedman has to say - through Tom’s character - about the nature of human morality and decision-making and how tragic their consequences might be.

“Ted Smout”, 2010. Australians at War Film Archive, Australian Government - Department of Veterans’ Affairs. [cit. 2014-08-12]. Available at:

Kijas, J. Life Under the Light. Lighthouse Families of New South Wales. Sydney: Office of Environment & Heritage, State of NSW. Available at:

Livengood, S. Psychological Trauma: Shell Shock during WWI. Fall 2011. Journal of History and Social Science. [cit. 2014-08-12]. Available at:

Stedman, M. L. 2013. The Light Between Oceans. London: Transworld Publishers, Black Swan edition.

Ars Aeterna

Literary Studies and Humanity

Journal Information

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.102


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