The Waste Land By Eliot

1870 Words8 Pages
‘It is obvious that we hear many voices in The Waste Land, less clear that what we hear is the voice of someone.’ Discuss.
In this essay, I am going to argue that in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, we do hear many voices, but they are not the voice of an identifiable person, and that is entirely clear. Furthermore, it is not problematic that the reader is unable to identify a single speaker, as the distance that is created between the poem and the reader is a stylistic choice made by the poet.
One of the sole functions of The Waste Land is to problematise the status quo. In being unable to identify a single, all-encompassing and consistent authorial voice or poetic persona, as is possible in most poetry pre-dating The Waste Land, Eliot actively makes reading the poem an uncomfortable experience, as “we are plunged into the middle of the modern urban world with its multitudes of faceless individuals.” It is this defamiliarisation which contributes to The Waste Land being viewed as the epitome of modernist writing – even being given the label of “high modernism.”
Most of Eliot’s poems are transitional works, formed as a product of tumultuous events occurring in his life. It is widely noted that Gerontion coincides with what many agree was the “worst year of his [Eliot’s] life.” As is inherent in transitional work due to the resulting personal development which accompanies such periods of change in one’s life, there are several voices present. At times, these voices are
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