College Papers/Wasteland by TS Eliot college paper 14415

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The driving force of all life is procreation and re-birth. For mankind,

vegetation, the animal kingdom, the survival of the species is the

dominant factor and only the fittest survive. For millennia, different

races have believed that the fertility of the land depended on the

sexual potency of their ruler or favour of their gods. Pagan, Roman,

Greek and other gods have been invented who were believed to control

the fertility of the land, such as Ceres, the Roman goddess of

agriculture, on which the survival of their populations has been

believed to have depended. Various superstitions and religions have

further developed and become significant factors in the lives of

billions of the world's population. The Waste Land takes these themes

and portrays a dead land that lacks the fertility and sexual potency

needed to sustain and progress life. A land void of what is needed for

re-birth. The 4 life-giving elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water. Earth is

sterile; Air is turned to "brown fog"; Fire burns; Water drowns. The

sexual imageries are unproductive: sex is present as a lustful

functional device but lacking of the necessary fertility. Superstitions

are turned to by the society in search of the answer in the form of

Tarot cards and religion is a constant thread as evidenced by the

recurring Biblical references and themes.

In The Burial of the Dead we see that he gives us an image of

the Earth as sterile, instead of being the foundation of

vegetation. It is only a repository for the dead. Earth is the

1st. of the 4 natural elements. These 4 opening lines echo the

"April", "root", "Lilac/flower", and "rain/shower" imagery of

the 4 opening lines of The General Prologue of Chaucer's

Canterbury Tales. These lines are reflecting the image of life

and death. Rain usually nurtures and strengthens plants and sustains

them, but here we see that life even with water is slowly dying and

wasting away. He later goes on to say that the trees will give no

shelter and the crickets, no relief. This line comes from Ecclesiastes

12:5-7: "Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and

fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the

grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth

to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets. Or ever the

silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be

broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall

the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return

unto God who gave it." When he says "I will show you fear in a handful

of dust", he again gives us the image of birth because in the Christian

belief, God made Adam out of!

the dust of the ground.

A Game of Chess comes from Thomas Middleton's A Game at Chesse,

a controversial Elizabethan play depicting war between England

and Spain with England as the white pieces and Spain as the

black. In this poem though, the players end in stalemate. As

though a window gave upon the sylvan scene The change of

Philomel, by the barbarous king So rudely forced; yet there the

nightingale Philomel is the character raped by Tereus and who had her

tongue cut out so that she couldn't tell. She was turned into a

nightingale. These few lines represent sexuality without fertility, and

how the earth is so wasted that it can't produce life anymore.

The Fire Sermon A key feature of Bramanical philosophy was the

worship of fire as part of the Vedic rituals. Fire in that

sense was used as cleansing. In this use it is cleansing the

world of all immoral things. Fire was the voice of the god

Agni personified by man, water personified by woman. In Death

By Water, water here doesn't give life, it takes life away.

Short, resolute and

uncompromising. Water is the 3rd. of the 4 natural elements. In the

Christian belief water is used for baptizing. This process is like

dying in water, and being ressurrected into a new life.

In the next chapter this same thing does the divine voice here,

thunder, repeating Da! Da! Da! that is, restrain yourselves,

give, sympathise. One should practise this same triad:

self-restraint, giving, sympathy." Thunder brings the promise

of rain but fails to provide it. Thunder represents Air, the

4th. of the 4 natural elements.


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