March 3rd, 2011
“The Fire Sermon” Analysis.
This section, and the longest of Elliot’s “The Waste Land”, depicts poor, gloomy, lethargic scenery in which the themes of lust, sexual ambiguity, moral degradation, spiritual melancholy, abound throughout the poem. The poet himself often embodies the role of ancient and mythological figures to which he alludes in order to strike the reader's infatuation. He continually reminds us that beauty, love, passions which was once food for the soul, are turned to slaves of our egoistical, materialistic, relished physical needs. The central character is the poet himself who often takes on the roles of the Fisher King and Tiresias in order to convey his message. The other characters, Actaeon and Dian replaced by Sweeney and Mr. Porter, Thames’s daughters, The clerk and the typist, Queen Elizabeth with her suitor Earl of Leicester;-all these are foil and flat characters who although taken from, and alluded to past, famous literary works, their presence and revelation is to unveil the narrator’s major themes and ideas. These characters are stereotypes or archetypes throughout the work. The scenery and images implied in the work play a major role in describing and interpreting the contextual setting of a pictorial framework. Elliot opens this section with the image of a river in late autumn, or early winter: “The River’s tent is broke; the last fingers of leaf clutch and sink into the wet bank.the nymphs are departed. Elliot cites here Spencer’s “Prothalamion” with the line: “Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song”. He takes us to Spencer’s Thames and ‘bridal song’ that suggests celebrating life and happiness along Thames. He quickly changes scenery and contrasts this setting with the one he’s witnessing. He’s sitting by the Leman-French for Lake Geneva, where he witnesses degradation, elements of the modern world-“empty bottles, sandwich papers,...