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Apr 23

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Theme of The Wasteland by T.S.Eliot

The Theme of ‘The Wasteland’

The theme of the poem is the recovery of the waste land, not as a certainty but a possibility of emotional, spiritual and intellectual vitality to be regained. The whole world has become a wasteland. It presents modern London as a dry, waste land. The poem is built around the symbols of drought and flood representing birth and death, and this fundamental idea is referred to throughout. The Waste Land is powerfully moving presentation of infertility and disruption.

The Waste Land views the contemporary human problem as a duplication and continuation of a permanent problem of humanity, while emphasizing everywhere the wide gulf that separates the Godless humanity of today from the early human society, when moral and spiritual values were intact to guide the human destiny and exchange man from the career of sin and crime.

We also introduce with two episodes of guilty love, which are Eliot’s comment on the sexual obligation in The Waste Land, where sexual art has become beastly and sinful because it is divested of all spiritual import, all considerations right or wrong. The happiness of love is framed. The modern waste lenders cling to life and fear of death.

The second scene exposes the worthlessness of the relationship between man-woman. Eliot says that their love is guilty and hence instead of bringing sense of fulfillment, it brings a sense of boredom and futility of sex outside marriage.

The unreal City

The protagonist then surveys the ‘unreal city’, London and the crowd that moves in the dead routine. As the crowd reaches King William Street, the church clock strikes the hour of nine but the hour means nothing to them except that it is the time for opening of offices. In the modern mechanical and commercial world, there is a contradiction, of spiritual values. The devotion to business is a denial of Christ

Sexual Violation

The chief symbol of this section is the sexual violation, the fiery hair, the chess game and the blindness. The key symbol in the second part is abortion, which advances the theme of unfruitfulness and sterility. “The violet girl” is essentially a symbol of betrayed innocence. Lack of discipline in sexual relationship tunes it into a source of mere gratification of the senses. Sex is merely escape and when it pulls. Both the women of high society and lower level from anxiety and uncertainty and emotional imbalance obsession with sex and it is one of the main diseases of modern civilization.

Lack of water

Hopelessness: The contemporary hopelessness is in sharp contrast to the hopeful journey of the king who ultimately reaches his goal. There is a flash of lighting and a damp wind indication arrival of rain and fertility.

At the end we can say that Eliot’s The Waste Land presents a real web of meanings and messages for our confused times. Eliot’s use of complex symbols and intricate imagery adds prosperity and variety to the feel of the poem. It is full with abundant allusions to myth, ritual, religion, history – both past and present.

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Mahbub Murad

I am a Lecturer of English at Mohanagar Ideal College, HSC Examiner of Dhaka Board and the Founder of this site. If anyone wants to share his/her idea or get any support, he or she can contact me. Cell: 01761519111 (12 pm - 3 pm and 10 pm - 11 pm)
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