Ourselves, not ourselves : t.s. eliot's the wasteland

5150 mots 21 pages
ourselves, not ourselves : seciov tnereffid ni ecilop eht od eh

Steven Paschall
Dr. Jake York
Engl 4180
13 May 2004

They forget to breathe. They are paralyzed. They scoff. They are grinning cryptically. They are confused. They exhale. They are the readers of The Waste Land. They have heard much, know less and depending on their state of mind desire more or keep Eliot’s masterwork (so some have said) far away from their hands and eyes. Much has been written on The Waste Land and the old phrase “it has all been done before” rings some seriously loud bells. However, while many criticisms and analyses of Eliot’s poem have, in my opinion, hit home in a variety of ways there is something left untouched, unlit. Eliot’s work often presents to us an implicit searching or an explicit journey. Between these works many delightful connections can be made, but the works as a whole can be seen as one continuous journey for Eliot himself; an arc that sees the poet searching, discovering and persevering. This arc, simplified, starts with Prufrock, turns at Waste Land, and ends with the Four Quartets. When viewing Eliot’s work in this fashion, each work consequently can be realized as a step before or a step after other works. The Waste Land is certainly the most popular of his works, and with popularity has come difficulty. I do not wish to discuss at length the seemingly endless interpenetration of Eliot’s poems (from beginning to end), but only to examine The Waste Land as it may be understood through various connections with Prufrock and The Four Quartets. The Waste Land is divided into five sections, each of which present one aspect or point on that arc/search/journey that lies solely within the poem itself; a sort of micro-arc as compared to the macro-arc that covers all of Eliot’s works. Examining these fives sections, their relation to each other, and their relation to other TSE poems, we dig up the realization of The Waste Land’s appeal for

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