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T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland"

In this passage Eliot talks about the degradation of love and sex. Tiresias foretells the seduction of the young woman.

I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest -

The woman is depicted as bored with the whole thing. The passage evokes a sense of apathy and loss. Eliotís use of negative words, "unreproved", "undesired", give the reader a low feeling, as if they are witnessing something very sad.

The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavors to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defense;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.

In this part of the poem, the reader has reached but one step down the ladder of disillusionment. As the poem continues, Eliot sends the reader spiraling down into more confusion and degradation.

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
"Well now thatís done: and Iím glad itís over."

The poem alludes to the loss of coherence in a once ordered world by using fragmentationís, allusions to other works and difficult, abstract usage of words. The sense of chaos in the formation of the poem seals the sense of chaos in the readers mind.

K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2001, 2006

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