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T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland: Interpretation and Symbolism

T. S. Eliot is one of the most remarkable poets during his period. The way he used different elements in his poems reveals different aspects of being and life in a certain realm. Every part of each poem symbolizes many things. Within the words and elements, reality was perceived. He attacks his poems in a simpler form yet undeniably elaborated and thoroughly discussed. T. S. Eliot does not use words just to give his readers a doubtful imagination. Symbols and words are connected to one another. Everything falls on the right path in the right situation and point of attack. The way T.

S. Eliot discussed his poem is like reading a very short story where everything is complete. Readers would not ask for more illustrations because Eliot already described everything he stated. The narrators in the poems are also revealing. They were narrating like a god in his own time and place – without ignorance and over possession. Despite of the fact that there are unfamiliar words, Eliot supports these utterances into a dramatic yet brighter description to make each expression significant. This is what Eliot did in his poem entitled “The Wasteland. ” Body The Burial of the Dead

The poem “The Burial of the Dead” discussed different literary elements from one stanza to another. Based on what I have understood and observed in this poem. I found four significant themes that emerge within the whole poem – fear, beauty, duty, and betrayal. These themes were thrown by the narrator as she narrates her experiences during her childhood until she became old. In the first stanza, the narrator betrays her life during the month of April. She felt that April brought her death as she reminisces her past during a summer vacation. She described how she and her cousin frightened her.

This stanza also became the establishment of the narrator’s characters. She revealed her identity as a girl and name as Marie. In the second stanza, beauty was perceived as the narrator and her cousin enjoyed the flowers in the garden. This stanza is an irony of the first – from betrayal to beauty and from fear to enjoyment. The narrator described how the wind also enjoys its life as it comforts the narrator. However, at the end of the stanza, betrayal went back to the narrator’s body – full of thrill and fear. In the third stanza, the narrator showed why she suffered from fear and distress.

She was mesmerized by her own eyes as she explores the life within her adventure. Her happiness always exists in the beginning of every event but in the end, her fear went back to her mind and soul. Lastly, duty was perceived in the last stanza. The way she believed in her religion was shown. The act of Catholicism exists as a way of armoring all her fears and betrayal against the different occurrence in her life and journey. The line “Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again (75)! ” refers to Jesus Christ in the cross as what the narrator used to save her from distress.

Game of Chess In the beginning of the poem “Game of Chess,” passion and love were already been established. There is an occurrence of sexual intercourse but it was bother by some instances and hindrances between the two people. The line “In fattening the prolonged candle-flames (91)” signifies the urge of the man and the woman. The lines “In which sad light a carved dolphin (the man) swam. Above the antique mantel (the woman) was displayed (96-97). ” The man went to the body of the woman to feel its passion and urge but the woman is hard and cold against the man’s body.

He could not feel her because the woman felt no love within the man – only lust that remains beneath their sheets. I think we are in rats’ alley Where the dead men lost their bones (114-115) These lines showed that the man is empty. Both the man and the woman as tired of doing intercourse. Their urge started to decline for they already felt that they were like rats that used to run and challenge each other without any assurance of happiness but only their way of surrendering their bodies. At the end of the poem, the man and the woman were both weary and wanted to take their rest.

Their words of “goodnight” symbolized closing of doors from unsuccessful love and passion as well as sexual urge between the man and the woman. The Fire Sermon The religions in the poems are tribal, mystical, and sacramental religions. These types of religions were brought together to form one significant belief that the narrator is trying to illustrate. Tribal religion was shown in the first stanza of the poem wherein the narrator described the area of praise having a unique ambiance along with the unique elements that exist within the place.

Mystical religion subsists in the eighth stanza as the narrator signs with the people doing their rituals and calling the gods of nature. “The river sweat/ Oil and tar / the barges drift / with the turning tide (266-269). ” On the other hand, the sacramental religion appears on the ninth stanza where different names are called upon the sacrament of religious entities. The rituals were properly oriented through the sacrament of kneeling and humbling people’s life before their gods. However, despite of the solemnity of the event, the narrator remains clueless to the situation.

She does not know what to do. She obeyed the rules but her heart was not part of the religions. In the end of the poem, all she did is to obey and follow everyone in the place without any idea of what will happen to her. Death by Water The water that was discussed by the narrator in the poem “Death by Water” is what we called the water of life. It does not look for good and bad. Everyone is capable to feel the life of this water. This is the whirlpool of goodness and belief. Once a person enters the water, he or she will receive new life as what the narrator discussed.

Gentile or Jew / O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, / Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you (319-321). These lines showed the essence of water that whoever took this liquid, whether Gentile or Jew, they will receive a new beginning and salvation. What the Thunder Said The poem described the nature as it flows within the hearts, minds, and souls, of the people especially the narrator. It was seen that Eliot is fond of nature as he discussed the different elements of nature as it embodies the whole life of the narrator and the setting.

Eliot also used dialogues to make his readers feel the emotions in between the characters as they dwell their hearts into the thunder while there are in the river. Happiness and enjoyment was seen throughout the whole poem but seriousness was felt in the beginning. However, in the latter part of the poem, both the characters decided to reminisce their childhood moments as they sang the children’s song “London Bridge. ” While Eliot lives in nature, he also loved to go back to his childhood. From all the poems in the Wasteland, there is a footprint of childish moment using his narrators.

He used different settings to justify the thoughts of young beings as it reveals their innocence and ignorance as the poem ended. Conclusion As a conclusion to this, Eliot is a symbolist poet. His symbolism cannot retrieve once the reader could not understand his attack. His poems are also hideous. The signs, symbols, and elements hide its meaning in every material that Eliot used. Because of this, readers need to find the main purpose of each symbolism to justify Eliot’s usage of certain words and expressions. All the poems in “The Wasteland” are connected to one another.

Eliot used a woman or a girl to be his narrator. He also used a man or a boy to show the opposition between the gender and equality between the two. The way he perceived women is different from men. Based on his poems, he is bias to the qualities of women rather than men. Men are only symbols of social power but not as an individual power. He showed in his poems that men could not think nor act without women who nurture them.

Works Cited

Eliot, T. S. 1922. The Wasteland. 12 February 2008. http://www. bartleby. com/201/1. html

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