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T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land Melanie Czerwinski. Background Eliot was influenced by World War I, which impacted themes of the poem The poem is split into.

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Presentation on theme: "T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land Melanie Czerwinski. Background Eliot was influenced by World War I, which impacted themes of the poem The poem is split into."— Presentation transcript:

1 T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land Melanie Czerwinski

2 Background Eliot was influenced by World War I, which impacted themes of the poem The poem is split into five sections – The Burial of the Dead, A Game of Chess, The Fire Sermon, Death by Water, and What the Thunder Said Does not follow epic poem structure exactly, but for a purpose

3 Plot No exact plot, unlike other epic poems The “waste land” is without water and is presented as barren, but people still live in it

4 Characters No main character Characters are presented in the poem mostly through vague conversations, and some are nameless Used to show what life in the waste land is like “Controversial” characters

5 Characters - Tiresias Speaker in The Fire Sermon Blind prophet that appears in Greek tragedies Hermaphrodite

6 Epic Elements – Begins in media res When the poem begins, the waste land itself is already established and is “under… brown fog” (Eliot, 1922, p. 2671) The poem begins after World War I, and focuses on the aftermath –However, it does not focus on a tale in this aftermath, like other epic poems

7 Epic Elements – Vast Setting The Waste Land references Europe as a whole, with focuses on England (specifically London) and Germany Through the perspectives of different speakers, the reader can never be sure of where they are, making the setting feel even larger

8 Epic Elements – Mythology References Many epic poems reference mythology in a more direct way than The Waste Land –Mythological beings are present, are treated as if they once existed, or are seen through divine intervention Tiresias is the only figure of mythology that is truly present

9 Epic Elements – Mythology References Eliot uses mythology as a means of symbolism The Burial of the Dead “You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; “They called me the hyacinth girl.” –Yet, when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither Living nor dead, and I knew nothing.” (Eliot, 1922, p. 2616)

10 Epic Elements – Mythology References Hyacinth was the “name of a young man loved and accidentally killed by Apollo in Greek mythology” (Greenblatt, 2006, p. 2616)

11 Epic Elements – (Lack of) Epic Hero The Waste Land has no epic hero Absence of a hero in the poem is just as important as having a hero in a traditional epic poem –Shows lack of hope –Hero could not portray cultural values because there are no values in the waste land –Hero could not descend because the waste land is so disconnected

12 Deconstruction and Modernization Eliot neglecting or bending core elements of epic poetry is intentional Epics are an ancient genre of poetry Eliot, a modernist, took aspects of an epic and changed them to fit what he wanted to express More practical or realistic in comparison to traditional epics

13 Themes Sexuality –Tiresias – forms “bridge” between man and woman –“Hyacinth girl” In Burial of the Dead In the original text, the “hyacinth girl” was male (Miller, 1998) “I remember The hyacinth garden. Those are pearls that were his eyes, yes! “

14 Themes Damage to Society/Humanity –In context with World War I influences, the waste land came to be because of human action –The waste land is an “unreal city, under… brown fog” (Eliot, 1922, p. 2617) –Humans are forced to live in the waste land, and characters act detached from their surroundings

15 Conclusion Eliot set to show the effects of World War I through a modern technique He took an old genre and “renewed” it to set it apart from the writing of other authors


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