Structure and the major themes of T.S.Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land”

Good Essays
Discuss the structure and the major themes of T.S.Eliot’s poem
“The Waste Land”

“The Waste Land” (1922) is one of the most outstanding poems of the 20th century written by the great master Thomas Stearns Eliot. The poem expresses with great power the devastation, decay, futility and despair of the civilization after World War I. In this essay I would like to comment upon the structure as well as the prevalent themes elaborated in the poem. The main themes of “The Waste Land” are : Eliot’s portrait of women, or the female characters as presented in the poem and the metaphor of the title and the emptiness and sterility of the modern world.

The poem “The Waste Land” is divided into five parts: “The Burial of the Dead” , “A Game of Chess”, “The Fire Sermon”, ”Death by Water” and “What the Thunder Said”. It opens with an intriguing epigraph dedicated to Ezra Pound. It consists of 434 lines and it’s regarded as one of the longest poems, if not the longest, in English literature. It is a highly complex poem and it requires the reader to be competent in order to fully understand the poem. Professor Z. Ancevski said: “The poem is filled with sudden and unexpected breaks which lead to contextual and intertextual narrative, not linear”(Ancevski,2003). And indeed, we can clearly see how Eliot quotes Shakespeare, incorporates allusions to myths, symbols, religion, history, both past and present he also puts some parts from the alternative poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and many more. Furthermore, he uses juxtaposition of scenes and images without any explanation of what they are doing together and there is no author’s voice to tell us where we are. The structure of “The Waste Land” is vastly different from any other poem and it owes mostly to the Imagists and the French symbolists such as Charles Baudelaire, Jules Laforgue and especially Ezra Pound.

One of the most important themes in the poem is the way in



References: 1. Ancevski, Zoran (2003) T.S. ELIOT PESNI. Skopje, Magor 2. Professor Zoran Ancevski lectures 3. Abrams, M. H. et all., Norton Anthology of English literature, vol. 2, 5th ed, New York: Norton and Co. Inc., 1979

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Powerful Essays

    T.S.Eliot's the Waste Land

    • 1579 Words
    • 7 Pages

    in T.S.Eliot 's The Waste Land? Faith and belief, or the lack of it, has always played a major part in T.S. Eliot’s canon; perhaps more than any other Modernist writer, Eliot reflects the zeitgeist that was described by Spears Brooker (1994) as “characterized by a collapse of faith in human innate goodness and in the inevitability of progress.” (Brooker Spears, 1994, p.61) To this end, this paper looks at how such issues are represented in Eliot’s early work The Waste Land (1989) that, as we shall…

    • 1579 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Waste land

    • 588 Words
    • 2 Pages

    The Waste Land ‘The Waste Land’,by T.S.Eliot, is widely regarded as ‘one of the most important poem of 20th century’ and a central text in modernist poetry.Published in 1922,the 434 line poem was first appered in united Kingdom.Eliot’s poem loosely follows the legend of the holy Grail and Fisher Kin g combined with the Contemporary condition of British society.He employees many literary and cultural allusions from the western canon,from Buddism and the Hindu Upanishad in the poem.Of course,the…

    • 588 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The Waste Land

    • 1630 Words
    • 7 Pages

    The Waste Land: T. S. Eliot’s Journey of Realization and Revelation Cara Williams Course: English 122 Honors Instructor: Dr. James Walter Essay Type: Literary Analysis The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot, appeared at a time when European society was not quite sure what to do with itself. Europe had just emerged from World War I, a war which had traumatized the continent and its society. Many felt the world was chaotic and inhumane. A sense of disillusionment and cynicism became pronounced and nihilism1…

    • 1630 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    The Waste Land

    • 1528 Words
    • 7 Pages

    The Waste Land, a 434-line modernist poem by T.S. Eliot revolves around a world of what seems to be chaotic and dead, and led by a single protagonist. Throughout The Waste Land, there are many uses of symbolism with tarot cards, astrology, and especially the game of chess: The game of chess is such a meaningful symbol throughout the story, that metaphors are used to describe the situation and emotions of the characters throughout the poem by describing them as chess pieces and in check-mate situations…

    • 1528 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Waste Land Script

    • 946 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Towards the end of The Waste Land, the poetic voice says: ‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins’ (Eliot, The Waste Land, p. 140). Discuss this assertion in relation to the entire poem. In this part of the presentation I will be looking at Eliot’s fragmented form which produces a chaotic effect, and then discuss how the voice of the speaker who says ‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins’ might bring the poem together to form an order and a platform for the blend of images, languages…

    • 946 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Waste Land by T.S.Eliot

    • 710 Words
    • 2 Pages

    ‘The Waste Land’. These are related to various symbolic Waste Lands in modern times such as ( a ) The Waste Land, religion where there are but no water ( b ) The Waste Land of spirit, where all moral springs are dried up and ( c ) The Waste Land of the reproductive instinct where sex has become a means of physical gratification rather than a source of regeneration. The Wasteland is mainly concerned with the theme of barrenness in the mythical Waste Land of the twentieth century. The land has lost…

    • 710 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Waste Land Analysis

    • 377 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Sweet Thames In the poem, The Waste Land, there are many images given that help to allude to a deeper meaning and give a hidden feeling to what is being read. In the third part of the poem, the lines “Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.” (Part III, line 5) give the feeling of mourning and gloom. This feel is directly related to the lines that follow which talk about crying and death. The mood for the rest of the part has dark and ominous setting because of this line. The image is added…

    • 377 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The Allusions in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land The Waste Land is an important poem. It has something important to say and it should have an important effect on the reader. But it is not easy. In Eliot's own words: "We can say that it appears likely that poets in our civilization as it exists at present, must be difficult. Our civilization comprehends great variety and complexity, and this variety and complexity, playing upon a refined sensibility, must produce various and complex results. The…

    • 10550 Words
    • 43 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The waste Land T.S.Eliot complcted ‘The Waste Land’ in the autumn of 1921, and with the constructive suggestions of Ezra Pound about the structure of the poem ,the present draft of the poem , which was published in 1922, has become a classic. It is also, more importantly, the symbol of a whole age, signifying a new kind of poetry and a poetic revolution in modern English Literature and culture. The poem is a masterpiece of innovative poetic design and embodies an entirely new and original poetic…

    • 1614 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The Waste Land (3000 Words)

    • 3165 Words
    • 13 Pages

    "The Waste Land" is a modernist poem by T. S. Eliot caused a sensation when it was published in 1922. It is today the most widely translated and studied English-language poem of the twentieth century. This is perhaps surprising given the poem's length and its difficulty, but Eliot's vision of modern life as plagued by sordid impulses, widespread apathy, and pervasive soullessness packed a punch when readers first encountered it. Pound's influence on the final version of "The Waste Land" is significant…

    • 3165 Words
    • 13 Pages
    Powerful Essays