Theme of The Waste Land
‘The Waste Land’ is primarily concerned with the theme of barrenness in the mythical 20th century wasteland. The earth having lost its fertility, and nothing of use can grow there; animals and cultures have forgotten the true meaning of their reproductive function, intended to rejuvenate the earth. The negative the state of the land is closely linked to that of its lord, the Fisher King, who also by disease and mutilation (a kind of injury), lost his procreative power. There is a curse on the earth and its master, and it could only be removed by a concerted effort of spiritual regeneration. This idea links The Waste Land to the legend of the Christian nights quest for the Holy Grail (the cup used by Christ at the last supper with his first twelve disciples before his crucifixion), who been a recurring theme in the literatures of Christian nations. The look the barrenness of the original Christian legend is replaced by spiritual barrenness in Eliots poem.
On another level of meaning, one of the themes of The Waste Land is also death; ‘Death by Water’ being just one aspect of it. According to Cleanth Brooks (a reviewer) the poem deals with the contrast between “two kinds of life and two kinds of death”: Deathin- Life and life in death, as you may have found in S.T. “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” (an early 19th century ballad). Meaningless Life is a kind of death, while death in a sacrifice is a renewal of life because it gives hope for life to come. Through the five sections of “The Waste Land”, Eliot explores, to . length, the variations of this paradoxical theme. At the same time, he presents through his poetic art the wonderful trinity of religion, culture and sex. A handset the ideal of the three concepts taken together should be the common goal of humanity, but, since these human impulses tend to work in bolation, we have the result corruption of European civilization. Maybe the Orient (Eastern World) could provide an alternative, and so ‘The Waste Land’ ends with a message from the charity, hope and peace of the Hindu Upanishads.
Eliot’s Poetic Vision in “The Waste Land”
Eliot’s wasteland is the European scene immediately after the end of the First World War Tar. He is appalled at the emotional and spiritual barrenness that surrounds him. and everywhere in Europe. Therefore, his poem presents a horrifying view of the in modrn world. It is linked to the popular myth of the Fisher King, which has become helpless by disease, and whose lands were devastated by barrenness.
The ‘The Waste Land’ location is a place where people, surprisingly, pray for winter but not for spring, since all normal values are upside down in this country. The Tarot Pack of cards, once used to prophesy important events, is reduced in the hands of
Madame Sosostris the ‘famous clairvoyants’ into an ordinary instrument of fortune story.
It is significant that she cannot find the Hangman card in her bag. Homme’ representing a hanged god (or even Christ on the cross), symbol of redemption, life and fertility. This is another symbolic indication of the arid desert how green earth is transformed in the poet’s vision.
Another image of corruption is seen in the second part of the poem, ‘A game of chess’. Shakespeare’s Cleopatra (Queen of Egypt), in the midst of her opulence and wealth, once again represents the fate of modern twentieth-century man. The great works of classical art no longer sustain him in his quest for ideal achievements. The violation of Phildmel’s virginity is metaphorically repeated in Eliot’s wasteland, an evil act that is the result of a combination of the man’s scientific genius with his spiritual dryness.
In ‘The Fire Seimon’, the third part of ‘The Waste Land’, we meet Tiresias, the blind visionary, who pronounces his judgment on the relationship between modern man and woman. According to him, this very significant and vital natural relationship is reduced to a meaningless physical ritual. Even Cleopatra, that great romantic figure from ancient history, degenerates into a psychiatric patient in need of advice and help. What Tiresias and all the other characters in Eliot’s poem see is the poet’s view of the futility of human behavior in a social context.
The only positive image is that of Hyacinth Girl, but the flowers she carries are doomed to rot in the mist and rain. This part of the poem ends with a reference to quotations from the teachings of two visionaries, the Buddha of the East and Saint Augustine (a Christian saint) of the West, and they comment on the physical aspect of love between man and woman. Both religious philosophers significantly use the imagery of fire to convey their impression of lust. At this point, the wisdom of the East and the West somehow come to the same conclusion.