How Does T.S Elliot Convey the Bleakness and Desolation of the “the Wasteland”?

Topics: Satyricon, Petronius, The Waste Land Pages: 2 (327 words) Published: March 26, 2011
How does T.S Elliot convey the bleakness and desolation of the “The Wasteland”?

A sign of T.S Elliot's unpromising and pessimist way of undertaking “The Wasteland”, is the short quotation chosen to begin the poem. Elliot uses a quote taken from the “Satyricon” of Petronius Arbiter, to emphasise the deteriorated and diminished world that once used to flourish. The tone of the poem is set when Elliot chooses to quote Sybil:

“For I once saw with my own eyes the Cumean Sibyl hanging in a jar and when the boys asked her, 'Sybil, what do you want?' she answered, 'I want to die.'”

Elliot's choice to quote a women who is forced to age for eternity and never die, reflects the world he is forced to live in now; poor and wrecked and never improving. Thus, sets a desolate and bleak tone to begin “The Wasteland”.

Elliot highlights the barren and lifeless world of the “The Wasteland” through continuous negative connotations. “The Wasteland” allowed the audience to visualise the terrain as deteriorated and as place where life never flourishes. The negativity is clearly conveyed through the harsh and bleak images Elliot illustrates:

“And the dead trees give no shelter, the cricket no relief, And the dry stone no sound of water.”

The use of the negative repetition of “no” and the bleak imagery that is implied, offers the idea of no life and and a place of suffering.

In “The Wasteland” Elliot reflects the bleak and desolate land, to which he believes human society is similar to during post-World War I. Elliot's strenuous landscapes reflect the state to which the world is suffering through. Despite the initial use of images of summer, Elliot connects it to hopelessness:

“Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain;”

Elliot's use of irony by linking the season of Summer with rain, adds to the association of bleakness and desolation.
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