The Wasteland Essay

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T. S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” depicts a definitive landscape of desolation, reflecting the damaged psyche of humanity after World War I. Relationships between men and women have been reduced to meaningless social rituals, in which sex has replaced love and physical interaction has replaced genuine emotional connection. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” goes a step further in depicting these relationships: the speaker reveals a deep sexual frustration along with an awareness of morality, in which he is conscious of his inability to develop a connection with women yet cannot break free from his silence to ask “an overwhelming question” (line 10). “The Wasteland” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” together illustrate that…show more content…
Her lack of response to the clerks advances along with her depiction as “hardly aware of her departed lover” (250) reveal how sex is not associated with love in her mind. Perhaps most importantly, the action shown in the phrase “smoothes her hair with automatic hand” (255) epitomizes this detached and passionless sexual encounter. With this automatic hand we know that this encounter is not anomalous, but routine--as everything in the typist’s life has become mechanized. The degrading effect of this mechanization is the loss of meaning in life which has extended from her job as a typist to her relationship with a lover. No thought is put into these actions, just as no thought is put into a meaningful connection between the two. In another sense, “The Wasteland” depicts relationships between the opposite sex as barren of emotional attachment by means of the conversation between the drunken women in the second section, “A Game of Chess.” The sexuality here is portrayed as raging fertility followed by an abuse of abortion medication, as the character Lil is encouraged to have unwanted sex with her husband because “if [she doesn’t] give it to him, there’s others will” (149) but does not want to have any more children. We can see that Lil’s frustration in her relationship with her husband is connected to his superficiality: though absent, he is quoted to have said to Lil, “I can’t bear to look at you” (146),

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