Figures of Speech in the Waste Land

Topics: Figure of speech, Rhetoric, Phrase Pages: 2 (576 words) Published: November 30, 2012
Some figures of speech in the wasteland
Figures of speech comprise two main categories. One category twists the meaning of words to wrest a new non-literal meaning from words that, when phrased together, have a very different literal meaning, as in the idiomatic figure of speech, "He died from laughter." Literally, this means a man met his demise due to laughter. Figuratively (i.e., non-literally), this means he laughed with vigor for a long time. Figures of speech that twist meaning are classified as tropes.

The other category enhances meaning by arranging and rearranging words and word order to dramatize, emphasize or more elegantly express the point at hand. For example, an analogy may be more dramatically made by using a chiasmus that inverts parallelism in a typical abba component arrangement. For example, consider the inverted parallelism of this: The day [a] but shines [b], but glows [b] the night [a]. Figures of speech that enhance through words, sounds, letters, word order and syntax are classified as word schemes, or justschemes.         It is clear from this brief explanation of figures of speech that The Wasteland, with a figure of speech as its very title, will be replete with figures of speech of both kinds, tropes and schemes. In this format, I can identify a few prominent ones, the first being the title. The Wasteland is the overarching figure of speech (trope/metaphor) that shapes this entire poetic treatise on the state of the world in Eliot's day. The title of Part I, "The Burial of the Dead," is itself a significant figure of speech, also a metaphor, that establishes the central idea of the work. For Eliot, following World War I (1914-1918), Earth itself was ravaged, torn and dead, "Lilacs out of the dead land ...." This figure of speech signifies that death resulting from WWI encompasses the dead who died in battle and the dead who still breath though dead inside from horror and from the loss of dead Earth: A crowd flowed over London...
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