Ambiguity In T. S. Eliot's Hysteria

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I will be closely reading Hysteria by T.S. Eliot to interpret the piece through the eye of an amateur New Critic. Through this reading technique that emphasizes focusing on the words on the page, I will give evidence to support that hysteria is an overwhelming state that consumes everyone in its path. Although it is the woman in the poem who is laughing hysterically, both men who surround her are consumed by the desire to make her stop. By showing the ambiguity, and tension found throughout this piece, I will demonstrate that the two characters (although not suffering from hysteria themselves) are greatly affected by the woman’s hysteria.
The definition of Ambiguity is “something that does not have a single clear meaning: something that is
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Eliot’s Hysteria. It is clear that the woman’s laughter has led her to lose control of herself, as she leans back mouth open shaking manically. The two men that are described in the piece are frantically attempting to regain control of the situation, however in this attempt revealing their own discomposure caused by the power of hysteria. The waiter who had been serving the couple has begun trembling and stuttering, insisting they move outside. It can be argued that he is attempting to move them out of the sight of public to regain a sense of decency where he works, but in his requests he is only drawing more attention to the situation. He is unable to contain his uneasiness and is therefore out of control of his body. The same could be said for the narrator, unable to concentrate on anything except the woman. Had he continued the conversation, made a comment about her behaviour or even laughed along with her he would have regained a sense of discipline to direct them out of the public eye. Instead he just stares, first at her mouth and then at her breasts, remaining silent. He wishes for her to recover from her state of hysteria, not realizing how engulfed and useless he has become. While these men desire a state of composure to reappear in the …show more content…
Eliot’s poem. By concentrating on the ambiguity and tensions found within the work, it can be concluded that the men lost control of their minds when they encountered a woman suffering from hysteria. From the beginning to end of the piece her laughter, however innocent and positive it may have been, proved that the men were unable to handle a woman unrestrained by the need for the approval of others. Hysteria got the best of the woman, and the worst of the

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