The Power of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land Essay

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The Power of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land

T. S. Eliot, perhaps one of the most controversial poets of modern

times, wrote what many critics consider the most controversial poem of all,

The Waste Land. The Waste Land was written using a fragmented style. This

is a style that is evident in all of Eliot's writings. There are several

reasons for his using this approach, from a feeling of being isolated, to a

problem articulating thoughts (Bergonzi 18, Cuddy 13, Mack 1745, Martin

102).

What influenced Eliot the most in writing poetry was a book he read

written by the English critic, Arthur Symon, titled The Symbolist Movement

in Literature. This book is about French symbolist
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When Eliot began to compose The Waste Land, he used all the

different themes, techniques, and style's he had been developing to this

point. The Waste Land is developed entirely using fragments and quotations.

This is symbolic of his despair in succeeding in ever fully articulating

meaning. Although it is fragmented, it also reveals moments of continuity

and wholeness quantified with recurrent themes of time, alienation,

isolation, and articulation. Because Eliot used fragmentation as his style

when writing this poem, it survived being cut in half by the editing of

Ezra Pound. Many author's argue that Ezra Pound could have edited many

more parts out, without effecting the meaning Eliot was trying to convey

(Bergonzi 11, Mack 1743, Martin 20-22, 110, Ricks 9, Unger 18).

T. S. Eliot's use of estrangement in poems is his way of expressing

feelings between himself and the world. His inability to give himself to,

or to possess others is an example of the greater problem of isolation.

The isolation theme is prevalent throughout the Waste Land, with many of

his characters entwined. This is probably related to his problem of

articulating. Whatever his reason for using isolation it caused him to

turn towards god for answers. In 1927 he was accepted as a member of the

Church of England.