American Literature II

My reflections on American Literature II.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

The Wasteland is a unique and contradictory poem. In the beginning, the Burial of the Dead describes spring as a dreadful and depressing time. How can Eliot be so pessimistic about life and a fresh new start? The idea that April is the cruelest month shows Eliots negativity towards society and people. Eliot also uses the latin prenotes in his poems, similar to Pound, because he feels his works are only for people who are educated and able to handle his type of work. He limits his work to certain people and shows his pompous attitude while doing so. The different voices from the people in the poem show Eliot's views through other people. The Waste land is an example of mixing tradition with a new outlook. For example, people talk about traditional ideas and attitudes, but Eliot searches for a different approach in his poetry to explain these events and traditions. In the third part of the poem, the Fire Sermon, Eliot describes sexuality and how it is shameful. He views fertility as disgusting and unbearable. I feel that Eliot uses this to portray that sex is irresponsible and only for the uneducated. In other parts of The Waste Land Eliot describes very destitute, dark, and decaying places. He uses this as the breakdown of European aristocracy and shows that the old way of doing things just isn't working. Something needs to be done to get out of this desitute society. Eliot tries to portray though the Waste Land that people need to make some sense of their lives, and although Eliot seems pompous to me, he does make people think about what lifestyle they are living and how they can improve their lives from one of dismay to a lifestyle of success.

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