Within 'The Wasteland' by T.S Eliot, there exists a vast array of literary elements used to turn this poem into something more than just a jumble of mixed up phrases and quotes. While this jumble builds the poem, it also makes it hard to identify a single meaning or purpose that lingers throughout the poem. H. P. Lovecraft referred to it as a, "practically meaningless collection of phrases, learned allusions, quotations, slang, and scraps in general." That could be what springs to mind when this poem is first read, but if you notice the way some of the literary elements mature throughout the poem, you get a much different and more intense reading. The voices of the various characters and narrators shown in the poem are very particular and breed an interesting approach in reading the text. They are used as outside observers which show us scenes in order to convey the themes of the poem; in particular, the theme of the cycle of life, and rebirth.
It is interesting to note the title of the poem. Originally, the poem was supposed to have a different name, 'He Do the Time Police in Different Voices' after a line within Charles Dickens' novel 'Our Mutual Friend'. This alternate title changes the concept of the poem: it brings the voices of the poem to the forefront. This is one of the reasons I decided to focus on the voices within this work. Although the previous title was not the title ultimately adopted for the poem, it is important to note the overlooked title as it gives us a glimpse of another way to view the poem.
[...] This is similar to how this is done with the previous narrator with the historical and religious subtexts throughout the passages. We are given another wasteland here as well, and it is told through the story of these two people. Though they are not the speaking voices, they almost seem to be more of a voice than the actual narrative since they are given more character. This is done to give an interesting and equal perspective of these two worlds which lie right next to each other, but are entirely different. [...]
[...] The voices throughout this poem, seen to an extreme in this first part, are not entirely flushed out. We don't know the voices as well as the descriptions and allusions given to us throughout the piece, but through these descriptions and allusions we can get a better grasp of the voice. In class Bob Stein mentioned that when we read a poem we must always ask who is talking, what they are saying, and on what authority. We also need to look at what infiltrates their words; their voice in a sense. [...]
[...] By having the voices hard to define we are forced to have our attention drawn to what they are seeing and talking about. The next two “stanzas” give us little, if any “character development” within the narrator and instead shows us more links of the natural cycle of death pictured in the first few lines of the poem. The third stanza uses tarot cards to give a view into that natural cycle of death through Eliot's choice in which tarot cards were picked. [...]
[...] Yet we are given a title which links strongly to the Christian Book of Common Prayer. This makes the voice of Marie an unusual voice to follow up such a title, and makes us have to find a new attachment to the piece. As we read this we see her views which at first seem based on her memories and her simple likes and dislikes. This is shown in quite a few places within the first section. The last two lines almost works like a sonnet. [...]
[...] We see this by having the voice of this passage be from an external source looking into each scene, leaving us to interpret them without being involved with them. The second scene is placed within a bar, and shows a much poorer class of people. We are not given as many cultural allusions within this part which gives us much less of a view into the character who is speaking of these two worlds. We instead are given another focus into the way beautiful things are diminished into something that can't bring regeneration. [...]
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