Complexity In The Wasteland

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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In The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot paints a bleak picture for his readers. Despite the vagueness that is present in his work, it is still obvious that Eliot's feelings concerning the state of the world are not exactly passionate. The complexity in his work signifies the growing difficulty of the world that he criticizes. Through his eyes the world is a very debasing place. The downfall of the world stems from the lack of compassion from its inhabitants, a large growth in the cities, and the materialism now possessed by these inhabitants. The Wasteland is divided so as to address human nature and life in this state of being. For example in part I, The Burial of the Dead, the squalor of society is stressed. This squalor takes away our ability to recognize beauty for its own sake and appreciate the growth in nature. In part II, A Game of Chess, the existence of several people in a world that has robbed them of their individuality is described.

The reason for their loss is materialism, which also serves to dissolve the inhabitant's connection to the realm of spirituality. The following parts deal with water as a metaphor for salvation. This redemption, however, never comes. It visits briefly, but leaves nothing. The darkness of this progression is evident, and central to Eliot's themes of loss, corruption, and damnation.

To be able to stress his ideas about the degradation of society, Eliot gives several descriptions of the world that he perceives. In part I when he writes "April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of a dead land." Combine this with "Winter kept us warm," and a contradictory image is evident. The "cruelest" of months is the month in which growth takes place. The time of comfort, however, is winter. Rather than...