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The Waste Land

Numerous critics have tried to define meaning in T.S Eliot's "The Waste Land," a poem that break with conventional modes of expressing by condensing language. The poem uses as its framework or vehicle five stages of a soul in despair. The speaker attempts to achieve redemption in the "waste land" of society that is without godhead. The overall tone of the poem is one of doubt, though the speaker does remain hopeful that even in such a godless environment redemption is possible. Eliot's poem conveys this theme and this tone through a treasure trove of imagery that shall be the focus of this analysis.

The overall theme of "The Waste Land" is the search for redemption or coming to terms and acceptance of life. This is particularly difficult in a godless world, one that Eliot uses imagery to convey in the poem. Like a man in his youth, the world used to bring images of fertility and seasonal change brought new life, but now in the existential world there is only sterility, "A heap of broken images, where the sun beats / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, / and the dry stone no sound of water," (Eliot, lines 22-24). Kroll (p. 160) maintains Eliot uses such barren imagery as an allusion to another time of decay, that of the Middle Ages, "Eliot is associating the decay, sterility, and decadence of modernity with the blighted land of the grail myth."

Living in an existential modern world basically dooms one to being drowned by emotions and thoughts as to the purpose of life. Eliot provides imagery to demonstrate this existential dilemma of modern human beings. Eliot uses the image of drowning to convey the often overwhelming nature of metaphysical speculation in the face of no God. The isolation and loneliness are like drowning to the speaker. We see this when the clairvoyant provides the speaker with a tarot card of a sailor, and the speaker tells us "Fear death by water," (Eliot, lines 47). The im...

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The Waste Land. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 20:04, September 21, 2014, from http://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1709901.html