This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Waste Land By T. S. Eliot

3607 words - 14 pages

A wasteland [weyst-land] is defined as: land that is uncultivated or barren; an area that is devastated as by flood, storm, or war; something as a period of history, phase of existence, or locality that is spiritually, or intellectually barren; one of the most important poems of the twentieth century ( The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot, has puzzled its audience and been tossed aside by the general population since 1922, when the poem was published. To a reader not committed to delving into its metaphors, the story might appear to represent the broken faithlessness of a society physically and emotionally marred after the Great War. However, Eliot intended the meaning to be much deeper. He strived to capture the struggle of awareness and ambivalence between moral grandeur and mortal evil (Britannica 2). The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot, provides an eulogy for an intellectual society murdered by the Jazz Age through the multi-metaphorical symbols of the epigraph, “The Burial of the Dead,” “A Game of Chess,” “The Fire Sermon,” “Death by Water,” and “What the Thunder Said.”
The poem begins with an epigraph of “Satyricon,” in ancient Greek and Latin. That story is of Cumaean Sibyl, Apollo’s prophetess, wishing for immorality. She is granted this, however, it is immortality without eternal youth. Therefore, she miserably and painfully grows older forever, never dying (Arbiter 7). The quote translates into:

I saw with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in a cage,
and when the boys cried at her, “Sybil, what do you
want?” she responded, “I wish I were dead.” (Eliot 99)
This seems like a pessimistic excerpt to precede a story that is comprehensively equally angst. The connection Eliot saw between this piece of “Satyricon” and this own literary work is overall unknown, but there are many different ways scholars can intertwine the two. One of the common themes is the mechanical persistence of the world (Shmoop 5). Eliot felt that his beloved Victorian Era had been murdered in cold blood by the 1920’s Pop culture. He believed that life and existence had outlasted their meaning. Yet, the world spun on. Cumaean Sibyl lived in a cage, drowning in her own wrinkles with aching bones. Her body had outlived its ability to function (Arbiter 2). Eliot felt much of the same way about society. A single theme of The Waste Land is the decline of culture in Europe in the 1920s. Eliot was attempting to capture the concept of the intellect dying, yet the body functioning on (Shmoop 2).
Another way that these two literary works might be related, is over the false pretense of the belief “ignorance is bliss.” Cumaean Sibyl may have felt this at some point in her youth, but as she was laying in her cage, she wished she could have predicted her fate before it had seduced her (Arbiter 25). Eliot may have also wished to represent the consequences of ignorance. It was said that “optional stupidity” was seen as an extremely unattractive quality in a person in his...

Find Another Essay On The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

Influences in the Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

1821 words - 7 pages The 1920’s are often referred to as the roaring twenties. It is customarily described as the golden age, boisterous and wild time period (Meredith 51). Contrary to this popular belief, authors, T.S Eliot, Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald described this time period differently. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land vividly describes the very state the world was found in after World War I. Eliot examines the way the land is left desolate, and the

T. S. Eliot Bio Essay

402 words - 2 pages (Encarta Encyclopedia). He gained international attention after publishing The Waste Land (1922), edited by Ezra Pound. The Waste Land, a five-part poem, had a fragmented form with a unifying theme of despair. A prominent symbolism in The Waste Land is derived from the story of the quest for the Holy Grail. Eliot made a conversion to the Church of England in 1927. After which he focused more of serenity and religious humility in his work, Ash

Short Essay: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot - English Composition - Short Essay

1313 words - 6 pages the themes move in the speakers’ mind. “The Waste Land” Eliot’s commentary on the state of the society that he lived in. He depicts a world that is in a state of confusion and turmoil with little or no hope for recovery. Works Cited Owens, R. J. “T. S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land'.” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 1/2, 1963, pp. 3–10. JSTOR, JSTOR, Eliot, Thomas Stearns. The Waste Land. New York: Horace Liveright, 1922

"Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad in "The Hollow Men" by T. S. Eliot

1580 words - 6 pages . By selecting Heart of Darkness as a universal allusion in this poem, T. S. Eliot is able to promote his purpose though the themes and rhetoric of this novel. Conrad's novel is an inward journey to discover what Freud would call the id. This is a level of subconcienceness completely uninfluenced by the world around the individual. T. S. Eliot is trying to express the war-generated emotions and yearnings of his id through imagery, diction, and

Comparison: Marriage, by Gregory Corso & The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T. S. Eliot

2790 words - 11 pages A common practice when faced with a difficult choice, self-examination, is the centerpiece of two popular poems: Gregory Corso’s Marriage and T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Both poems are dramatic monologues in which the speakers address the similar situations that they find themselves in. While the speaker of Eliot’s poem has a nervous and bashful approach in his attempts at romance, the hesitant postmodern speaker in

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, a poem by T. S. Eliot

868 words - 4 pages “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a poem by T. S. Eliot, in which Eliot describes a man that was placed in the wrong time period. To do this he references some of Prufrock’s characteristics from other authors, such as Shakespeare. Shymal Bagchee expresses his view on Eliot’s modernist and absurdist viewpoints for the poem in his critical review titled “‘Prufrock’: An Absurdist View of the Poem.” Prufrock does not express his emotions like

T. S. Eliot: Tradition and the individual talent

773 words - 3 pages emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked." (1090)The Waste Land: Eliot's " Epic of decay ". it manifests Eliot's formalist theory as expressed in " tradition and the individual talent through the usage of techniques such as allusions, imagery, and experimentations with style.Tradition and the Individual Talent; An essay in which Eliot defines tradition, art

Cascando, by S. Beckett, and Burnt Norton, by T. S. Eliot

3543 words - 14 pages "Cascando," by S. Beckett (Poems 41-42), and "Burnt Norton," by T. S. Eliot (Quartets 7-13) express the poets' desire for love and union: Beckett, desiring a woman, expresses his apprehension of their love, and Eliot, wanting divine revelation, expresses his apprehension of God's love in creating the universe. Knowing the poets' personal circumstances, the artists' creative suffering can be discovered in these complex poems, as they struggle

Free Waste Land Essays: The Lifeless Land

509 words - 2 pages cannot exist without water; however, water can also destroy life. Eliot suggests that water cannot only provide life, but it can take it. Drowning is mentioned more than once in The Waste Land. This particular selection seems to require water for life. Later images of drowning, as in 4. Death by Water, are not necessarily suggesting the kind of lifelessness present in the desert imagery. Dying by water, a life-giving force, perhaps offers the

The Sun Also Rises by Thomas S. Eliot

1286 words - 5 pages when we are trembling with tenderness, lips that would kiss form prayers to broken stone” (839 THM). Works Cited Eliot, Thomas S. "The Hollow Men." Norton Anthology of American Literature. By Nina Baym. Vol. 2. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2007. 838-40. Print. Goebbels, Joseph. "Joseph Goebbels Quotes." Thinkexist, 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Scribner, 2006. Kindle. Dawkins, Richard. "Quotes About Religion or Atheism." Quotes About Religion or Atheism. Atheists of Silicon Valley, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. .

Lost in the Waste Land

1086 words - 5 pages ones live in a constant state of isolation, hopelessness, in despair. There is no coming back from war. It leaves only a waste land of minds, bodies, and spirits. This was a reality in which T. S. Eliot lived and this is why he wrote The Waste Land. It was through this poem that Eliot was able to show the world the true cost and consequence of war. It was his private testament of the cost of war, the truth of its aftermath, and it became

Similar Essays

The Waste Land By T.S. Eliot

1452 words - 6 pages The Waste Land, a 434-line modernist poem by T.S. Eliot revolves around a world of what seems to be chaotic and dead, and led by a single protagonist. Throughout The Waste Land, there are many uses of symbolism with tarot cards, astrology, and especially the game of chess: The game of chess is such a meaningful symbol throughout the story, that metaphors are used to describe the situation and emotions of the characters throughout the poem by

T.S. Eliot The Waste Land Essay

1927 words - 8 pages Europe. Called the most influential poet of the twentieth century, Thomas Stearns Eliot authored The Waste Land published in 1922, causing a sensation. This particular publication of his was one of the first poems to coin 'Modernism' as a true genre in literature, making any straightforward non-fragmented creative expression not modern. The modernist movement was ultimately outlined by the onset and devastation of World War I, lasting from 1914 to

Death Without Rebirth In T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land

562 words - 2 pages Death without Rebirth in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land is filled with a variety of images and themes. Two outstanding themes are desolation and death without rebirth. Eliot employs many different images related to these two important themes. The most prominent image where desolation is concerned is a wasteland: a barren, rocky landscape lacking any life or water. The absence of water is mentioned over and

Analysis Of The Waste Land, By T.S. Eliot

1098 words - 4 pages The Waste Land, written by T.S. Eliot, is poem portraying the lack and/or the corruption of culture in England during the post WWI period. Eliot uses a form of symbolism, in which he uses small pieces from popular literary works, to deliver his message. He begins by saying that culture during the post WWI period is a “barren wasteland.” Eliot goes on to support this claim by saying that people in England are in a sort of shock from the