Prompt 2: Analysis of “The Waste Land”
T.S Eliot uses his own unique style to depict a meaning in his poems. He uses many voices to show an idea to readers; however, it is difficult to identify the speakers and their purpose. In order to avoid confusion, Eliot uses references to help the readers understand the main idea of his poems. This is seen in section II, “A Game of Chess” from the poem “The Waste Land”. Eliot’s use of allusions shows the prevalent theme of suicide and failing relationships.
The beginning of this section starts off with a description of a woman and the room she is sitting in. There are several vials of perfume that cover the air, a golden Cupid statue that is hiding behind his wing, and a carved dolphin set under a sad light. Even though she is shown as quite wealthy, the atmosphere is seen as quite gloomy. According to the room’s decorations, it shows that the woman’s state of mind is unstable and she is having a mental breakdown. Her tone sounds distraught and desperate. The dialogue begins with her pleading for her lover to stay and speak with her. However, the lover only answers with short, vague replies. At one point, the lover says, “I think we are in rats’ alley” (Parker, 115). This suggests a reference to the horrible living conditions of soldiers in trenches during World War I (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). The relationship feels like it has run into a dead end and there isn’t anything to fix their problems. The lover is tired of the relationship and doesn’t want to stay anymore. They do not communicate very well and it shows a faltering relationship. It is possible that this section of the poem is referring to Eliot’s own marriage and how he didn’t get along with his wife at times.
Earlier in the poem, the woman brings up the story of Philomel. In that story, Philomel is raped by her sister’s husband, Tereus. Her tongue is cut off to keep her from speaking her mind. Philomel...