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T.S. Eliot And Society Essay

1450 words - 6 pages

Modernism was the time period between 1865 and 1950 that consisted of a change in the perspectives of how Americans examined themselves and their role in society. Many things occurred during these eighty five years that accounted for a great social change. Among these things were World War I, the Civil Rights Movement, prohibition, women suffrage, and the Great Depression. Particularly after World War I and during women’s suffrage, society’s standpoint on certain issues changed dramatically. After World War I, people’s attitudes swung with high expectations for themselves but were soon lowered after the economy’s fall. During women’s suffrage, society’s focus on simple traditions shifted to concentrate on more of urban culture. The Great Depression also caused major stress and hopelessness for the nation resulting in a time of despair for much of the world. Meanwhile, many writers emerged, such as Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Stevens. These writers found themselves in a generation of consecutive movements. While having to sustain their creativity, they had to go forward with the seasons at the same time. Their works are characterized as “breaking away from patterned responses and predictable forms”(Reuben). Many of their pieces challenged tradition against new manners. The outlook of society changed from a moral perspective to fast times. Many people tended to look apart from average events that occurred in their daily lives to find greater reasoning.

T.S. Eliot is considered to be one of the most prominent poets and playwrights of his time and his works are said to have promoted to “reshape modern literature” (World Book). He was born in 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri and studied at Harvard and Oxford. It was at Harvard where he met his guide and mentor Ezra Pound, a well-known modernist poet. Pound encouraged Eliot to expand his writing abilities and publish his work. Eliot became an England citizen in 1925 and received the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1948. Eliot connected most of his earlier works to French Symbolists, such as Mallarme, Baudelaire, and Rimbaud and first came into contact with these three in college while reading The Symbolist Movement in Literature by Arthur Symons (Pearce). He created a eminent style that was original and new. He gained their ability to write poetry filled with wisdom while adding his own passionate language. Eliot’s most famous works included The Waste Land (1922), “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1917), “Cousin Nancy” (1924), The Criterion (1922-1939), “Ash Wednesday” (1930), Four Quartets (1936), The Cocktail Party (1950), The Confidential Clerk (1954), and The Elder Statesman (1958). His early works, like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and The Waste Land, formulate on a wide range of cultural reference to depict a modern world that is in ruins yet somehow beautiful and deeply meaningful (Spender). Eliot’s later poetry began to change to more...

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