The Wasteland Essay Research Paper TS Eliot
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The Wasteland Essay, Research Paper T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land using a different type of poetry style and organization than was typical at the time. It follows the flow of its own themes, jumping from time to time and place to place as quickly as a thought comes and goes. Eliot uses opposites juxtaposed with each other without transfer to emphasize his themes. The poem is a mythic experience of kings, queens, and heroes. Eliot also uses this poem as an ironic quest of modern day people. The setting and the cast of The Waste Land exist within the mind of the poem s speaker. The poem is structured around the way the themes move in the speakers mind. The Waste Land is Eliot s commentary on the state of the society that he lived in. Eliot depicts a world that is in a state of confusion and turmoil with little or no hope for recovery. Eliot uses the myth of the Fisher King to represent his society that is decaying morally and socially. The Fisher King is a fertility myth that is paralleled by many other myths and stories throughout The Waste Land. In this myth a great kingdom is rendered desolate when a curse is placed upon the king by a wound of some sort. A great hero must complete a challenge and prove his worth so that the Fisher King may be healed. The hero that proves he is worthy and completes the tasks becomes the Fisher King by his deeds. Usually the Fisher King is associated with Arthurian legend and the quest for the Holy Grail. However, the actual story of the Fisher King probably has its roots in the pagan fertility ceremonies or Celtic myths. The first section of the poem is titled The Burial of the Dead. This section flows along from one passage to the next drawing connections across time and place. The speaker is centering his thoughts on the certainty that death is on the way. He hopes that soon the mythical rebirth and revival will happen. This comes together at the end of the first passage when the speaker is in the unreal city. This unreal city is the modern Paris or London. This modern society is depicted as a limbo where the citizens are in no pain but condemned to no chance at fulfillment. As the speaker is watching the people pass, he sees Stetson, a man who was in the war with him. The context of this scene would imply that Stetson was a soldier in the First World War. However, the speaker implies that he was in the Punic war with him two thousand years before this scene takes place. Here Eliot suggests that all the wars are one war by blurring the lines of time. The speaker then asks Stetson about a corpse that he buried, bringing us back to the title of the section The Burial of the Dead. Here Eliot quotes John Webster s play The White Devil where one brother is burying the body of his brother whom he killed. Eliot also makes reference to the Dog that might interfere with the resurrection. This dog is the Dog Star Sirus who follows his slain master Orion through the sky. In Egyptian mythology Sirus is responsible for the flooding of the Nile River and the subsequent fertility of the Nile river valley. The reference to Webster s play can also be interpreted as a comment on the evil nature of man. The first biblical murder was the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. At the end of this section Eliot writes hypocrite, double, my brother letting the reader know that the character of Stetson is really the reader that the speaker is referring to. This meditation on death is a reflection on what has been lost. The world is slowly withering away like the cursed kingdom of the Fisher King. The Fisher King has lost everything and sits contemplating his once great kingdom. Throughout his depression and loss, there is still some hope that what was lost can be regained. The Fisher King can be redeemed and healed if only some great hero will save him. There is no sign of hope here in The Waste Land, there is only the pain and decay of society and its values.