Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Poetics of Disintegration in "Prufrock" and "Gerontion"

The Poetics of Disintegration in "Prufrock" and "Gerontion"1

In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," Eliot presents the reader with a human predicament: that the modern era has brought with it the disintegration of culture, society and, consequently, the individual personality.2 The modern man, on a par both with the society around him and himself, cannot come to terms with either. Eliot presents Prufrock, the speaking persona of the poem, as a deformed product that sterile modern times have churned out. The symptoms of a disintegrated society are all at work in Prufrock's personality, which has been split despite and against himself. He cannot realize himself either sexually or culturally--an implication that he cannot nourish and get nourished by his cultural roots.3
Prufrock, with his fragmented personality, languishes for a love, which, as he himself observes, proves to be formidable. Since he is confined in the abyss of his own consciousness, reality is merely some kind of emotional experience for him.4 He is corporeally vis-a-vis the world, but psychologically ostracized. Therefore, Prufrock lets his thoughts and sentiments drift off incoherently, which is representative of his split personality. The external world, which, as he so sardonically depicts, reflects Prufrock's inner world deprived of spiritual serenity. He is leading what Kierkegaard calls an "alienated existence."5
As he cannot get involved in a dialog with the external world, it is only through the dramatic monologue can Prufrock whisper his intention: "Let us go then, you and I [1]." With the "then" in the very first line Eliot presents Prufrock`s dilemma as comparable to Guido`s in the epigraph from Dante`s Inferno. The link between Guido and Prufrock is that they are both tormented by their desire to act and to wriggle out of their guandaries, and that they face a similar failure in the end. While Guido has, at least, the courage to open up to Dante, Prufrock is too complacent and too inert to make that effort. He is simply content with his doppelganger-confidante in the penumbra of his consciousness.6 The person, that is, whom Prufrock adresses by "us" and "you" in the poem is but the doppelganger-confidante of Prufrock himself. By inviting his doppelganger to collaboration, he wants to stand united. The
sensational but inert Prufrock is aware of his fragmentation, and desires to piece himself together so that he can achieve his invitation--that of fulfilling his desire. However, as Hay puts it, "The self without system [is] pointed in every direction to the annihilation of self, since every particular becomes meaningless alone."7 Affirmed on and on in the poem is that Prufrock is lost.8
According to Eliot, the mature poet should be impersonal, and not impose his emotions on the poem. The text is supposed to elicit from readers some "structural emotions" through the formal arrangement of the poem`s images, each of which will serve in the text as an "objective correlative," a particular human emotion.9 Setting out from his formula, and enlarging it, one could make the analogy that the objective correlative in the text is Guido`s and Prufrock's plight. Both of them are, in turn, meant to evoke a sense of personal disintegration, symbolic of the modern Western man. Consequently, the former`s plight correlates to [and initates the reader into] the latter`s .
The structure of the poem, though seemingly incohesive, is tightly woven and reflects the persona`s state of mind. In "Prufrock," as a matter of fact, there is no "sequence of events in time or sequence of reminiscences."10 If Prufrock succeeds in anything, he does so in finding a correlation between his own internal world and the external, which mirrors the former, devoid of a sound structure and stability. As Prufrock dramatizes himself, he lets his stream of consciousness ransack the objects and images that are correlated to his inertia and ennui. He presents the reader with a still ambience in the very first lines, immediately associating the evening with an etherized patient, both of which are passive and unproductive. Prufrock can only hint at his barren state of mind by resorting to those images; he is as deprived of movement as the evening and the anesthetized patient. Unable to assert himself, "he is wryly conscious of his own self-consciousness, and of the way in which his life is limited by what he is."11 Hence, it is not surprising that Prufrock wants to visit a place, the whereabouts of which he is unable to disclose:

When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'
Let us go and make our visit. [2-12]

Prufrock murmurs his first twelve lines with anxiety and exhaustion. Furthermore, it is with a tantalizing impulse that he starts his reticent monologue: "Let us go." He repeats the invitation for the second time in the fourth line. Then, he repeats it for the third time in the twelfth line. When the reader has eavesdropped upon his words as far as the twelfth, he readily concludes that in the beginning is the end of Prufrock's intention. He keeps repeating himself, but cannot have his doppelganger lead him to his goal--a proof of his passivity which harbingers his ultimate failure when "the voices wake us, and we drown [131]."
Prufrock, although he does not highly regard the female dilettantes in the poem, is himself a flamboyant aesthete. He is the aesthetic man who, in order to escape from committing himself to duty and responsibility, tries to lose himself in sensual and intellectual experience. Nevertheless, unable to pull himself together, and to assert himself, he takes refuge in a superficial and self-created reality; he tries to enjoy the fruits of life without becoming involved in living. The more he yearns to disentangle himself from passivity, the more he is haunted by despair at the meaninglessness of his life.12 Althought he has a recourse to sex, he cannot manage even to fulfill this desire of his, either. As Williamson explicates, "the yellow fog" symbolizes both the sterility of Prufrock, and the contemporary infertile ambience that surrounds him.13 Thus, Prufrock, an inscrutable persona, loses the second round of thought with his doppelganger, too. He could have benefited from the advantages of the "soft October night," but he is incapable of taking advantage of such a suitable time of
Fall before he encounters winter, a cold season symbolic of hybernation, unproductivity and death.
Epitomized in the wrecked personality of Prufrock is a human plight. He is living in a world where, as Nietzsche had proclaimed earlier, God is dead, and women have almost reversed the history of male dominance. The women in the poem are elusive to the already doomed spirit of Prufrock. He has been sundered from his God, his cultural roots and, now, from the objects of his desire. He envisages them in such a way that, for Prufrock, the female is not only too dangerous to touch, she is incapable of understanding, as A. L. Johnson puts it. She functions as an "amalgam of invitation and repulsion," and propels Prufrock into various forms of "distancing":

flight into his consciousness and underwater silence.14 Prufrock's indetermination and spiritual choas are beyond redemption. Since he is not in rapport with either his
doppelganger or the external world, he gets into motion his psychological defense mechanism and wants to escape from his anguish. However, attempting to enshroud his paradox, he appears to be more pitiable than ever before:

There wil be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate
Time for you and time for me,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea. [26-34]

The intention Prufrock has in the quotation above is that of compensating psychologically for his never-progressing nature. Although he made his invitation verbally, he has failed to carry it out. Therefore, he readily tends to retrogress into the burrow of his consciousness. He pretends to be putting off his further move with determination; his use of the auxiliary verb "will" refers to an act of both the future and of determined nature. On the surface, he assures himself that he will later or sooner realize himself, and his wish materialize, which, however, as is understood later, is not the case: "in short, I was afraid [86]." Moreover, it is not without rhyme or reason that Prufrock alludes to Hesiod's poem. Since he cannot come to cope with the fact that he is sterile, he tries to motivate himself through the remembrance of the historic works and personages. This is to say that Prufrock rationalizes his failure. The poetical persona in Hesiod's poem advises his lazy brother to work, to produce something valuable on his farm, instead of idling his time away and squandering what he has inherited from his father. Prufrock wants to feel in the shoes of that persona, advising his doppelganger to progress.
Prufrock's mind obsessively and frequently rambles to the women who come in the room and go "talking of Michelangelo" because, being a successful and prolific painter, the latter has survived the centuries, by his works, and still attracks the women's attention. The women in the poem can, if perhaps for the purpose of flaunting their artistic appreciation, talk about his works with admiration. On the other hand, Prufrock, a man of the present century, has nothing by which to attrack them. Let alone that, he cannot even constitute a harmonious relation between his spirit and body. Neither can he yet give up clinging like barnacles to the self-illusionment that

"there will be time" to achieve the things he wants to. Therefore, one cannot really expect Prufrock to overcome his dilemma. A person who hesitates even before taking his toast and tea, Profruck is doomed to fail: "it is impossible to say just that what I mean!"
From the first line on, "Prufrock treats of self as an identity and a constitution in the philosophical light."15 Warring with/in himself to assert his identity, Prufrock's consciousness slips into many spiritual flights with his realization that he is in need of some psychological support. Therefore, to rationalize his fiasco, he depicts to himself other famous personages of similar character:

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant Lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince: no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious and meticulous.
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost, ridiculous

Prufrock's allusion to Hamlet marks another phase of his ego. That Prufrock alludes to him is perfectly fit to his own dillemma. The former's hesitant nature to realize himself is identical with the latter's much-discussed procrastination to ferret out the real cause of his father's death and to take revenge on the assassin, Claudius. Hamlet's fragmentation of personality comes to a fulfillment, albeit: he revenges his father, though at the cost of a concatenation of murders, including his own.16 One can, in Hamlet's case, scrutinize how the [sanely] mad protagonist conveys the intricate relationship between the psychic requirements and the social and cultural milieu in which these are expressed. Despite his temporary procrastination and fragmented character,17 Hamlet manages to attain his goal. However, Prufrock is not Hamlet, 'nor was meant to be." He cannot, unlike Hamlet, overcome his indetermination; his self-effacement turns into a momentary disillusionment, and back again into ironical self-flagellation and self-pity:18 "I grow old...I grow old.../ I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."
That Prufrock's mawkish and evasive nature is shattered is empathically delienated in the last ten lines of the poem. As the recurrent images of and references to the sea [e.g., "silent seas," "mermaids," "seagirls"] crop up more and more, Prufrock's self evasion becomes more marked. His psychic paralysis culminates when he realizes that even the mermaids will not do him a favor, by singing to him; thus, all his source of inspiration fades away.19 He has never really been a religious man; he cannot expect Christ to restore him to a potent life, as was Lazarus restored to his in the epigraph from Dante.20
Eliot further diagnoses the dilemma of Western cultural aridity and disintegration in "Gerontion." The very first line of the poem sets the reader in a hell-like atmosphere. The old man, symbolic of lack of youth and energy, is trying to survive "in a dry month." The passivity of the speaking persona is so grave that he is incapable even of reading. Juxtaposed for contrast are the boy and the old man. Although one might be tempted to think that this juxtaposition would intellectually nourish the old man and his "dry hair," his decrepid age will not enable him to revitalize his intellectual and spiritual faculties because there is no reference to the continuity of the generations. The poem's end is the same as its beginning: the man is still "in a dry season."
Like Prufrock, Gerontion is a man of divided self; his personality being torn asunder, he cannot tessellate it into a harmonious whole. The house in which he lives conforms to his character and is a simple but powerful symbol of Western civilization. It is a "decayed" house because it does not have the grandeur of the architecture of antiquity, nor is it suitable for Gerontion to feel secure. He does not feel at home in his lodging because the landlord is a Jew "spawned" somewhere in the world. When he depicts the house, Gerontion ostensibly has in mind the architectural masterpieces of the ancient Greeks and the Romans, and the following Christian era, not even comparable to his present residence. Ironically enough, Gerontion, though he must have known that Western civilization has been nurtured by the four fountainsheads, Judaeo-Christian and Graeco-Roman, he cannot put up with the Jewish element in the foundation of the house. Ignoring the Jewish heritage, and yet not realizing his own sterile personality, Gerontion would have liked to take refuge in Christ. Nevertheless, this possible ray of hope falls through as well since he cannot find the material, concrete indications of God's presence in the world.21
In his soliloquy, which echoes the Gospels, lies Gerontion's desperate desire to call for God. When the Pharisees and the Gentiles had asked to see some signs as to his prophethood, Jesus was able to convince them through his miracles. Especially, the Jews had tormented Jesus a lot. Therefore, Gerontion's allusions to Christ implies two things: first, as Jesus is Messiah, he is the only "Son of God" who can put
the straying "son of man" back in the right path; second, Gerontion, it seems, wants to pit Christ against Yahweh, who has always kept vigil over the Jewish, as the Old
Testament recurrently puts forth. Thus, that his lodging house belongs to a Jew, and that Christ is "unable to speak a word." are the facts which account for Gerontion's despair and torment him.
Like Prufrock, Gerontion is devoid of the urge and stamina to procrusteanize his split personality into unity. As his despair weighs heavier, Gerontion developes his doppelganger-confidante as someone to turn to. With Eliot this kind of doubling device is more convenient than obsessional. It does not present escape: "it permits exploration."22 Eventually, Gerontion infers that "we have not reached conclusion." As Prufrock consoles himself by the quasi-postponement of his visit, he finds consolation in the following:

I would meet you upon this honestly.
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom [...]
I have lost my sight, smell, hearing and touch;
How should I use them for your closer contact?23

Gerontion, in conclusion, is the epitome of a spiritual cul de sac, like Prufrock. He has reached a considerable level of knowledge, though at the cost of his present sterility, as George puts it,24 but he is incapable of curing his disintegrated personality. Smith25 emphasizes similar aspects of Gerontion and thinks that the latter will not be able to make an effort to redeem his loss and transmogrify the course of history. The unflinching honesty of Gerontion's "confession redeems it from utter hopelessness."26 He does not attempt the anti-climatic, quasi-heroism of Prufrock; hence, when, at the end of the poem, he realizes his dilemma, he does not ultimately "drown" like him. Nonetheless, the poem's mood is very pessimistic; and its subject matter contains elements that are full of hysterical laughters and tongue-in-cheek remarks. As a matter of fact, Gerontion has been unable to improve his plight; nor has he ever achieved anything, like Prufrock, except for iteratively and obsessively concluding that he is still "an old man driven by the Trades." with "Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season."

"The Waste Land", one of T.S. Eliot's most noted works, continues to provoke much debate as to its meaning. It's writer, however, accomplished the dual role of write an critic and it is, perhaps, in "The Wasteland", that we see elements of both the writer and the critic coming to the fore. In his essay, "Tradition and the Individual Talent", Eliot puts forward his claim for 'impersonal poetry' and argues for the case that the role of the poet is one of catalyst, "a medium in which special, or very varied feelings are at liberty to enter into new combinations."2 It is in the combination of various elements (or feelings) that the medium in which such combination can take place, claims Eliot should be impersonal; that is to say, that the poet should allow none of his own emotions (as opposed to the external input of feelings) to supplement or affect the act of producing the poem.

What Eliot is arguing for then is an objective passivity on the part of the poet, where any subjective influence can only be deeply subconscious and, to this degree, unnoticed, even uncontrollable. Eliot falls short of stating this explicitly, however, but the assumption remains in his remark that "…great poetry may be made without the direct use of any emotion whatever: composed out of feelings solely."3 However, although Eliot's case seems appropriate as theory, can it possibly relate to the actual impulse of poetic creation ? More specifically, does Eliot's own poetry (in this instance, "The Wasteland") bear out his principal of artistic detachment ?

In the light of such a theory as Eliot's, it is possible to see "The Waste Land" as a fine example of poetry that is inevitably intended to be public and, even to some extent, didactic in its apparent portrayal of the decay of western society. The combination of what appear to be disparate metaphors, allusions, images and sequences to form a somewhat tenuous unity of idea and expression presents, in Eliot's theoretical sense, an impersonal, detached objectification and, with regard to Eliot's theory, it is not surprising to find that the most persistent reading of the poem is precisely one of a devastating criticism of the modern world. General opinion seems to revolve around an interpretation of the poem as a pessimistic statement about the world, an assertion that Man leads a futile life in a meaningless world in which all faiths and beliefs have been reduced to empty vagaries. But, even on a basic level, this interpretation is patently not the case since, in its attempts to justify an imposed meaning, it neglects the religiousness of the closing lines which are surely offered in some sense of hope and future renewal.

In his book, The Reactionaries,4 J.R. Harrison follows much the same line. Harrison asserts that Eliot is depicting the decay of society both in its inward and outward manifestations. He notes that the symbol of cultural decay and loss of faith in the poem is that of sexual failure and points out that, in common with D.H. Lawrence, Eliot uses the degeneration of the sexual act symbolically since he believes that civilisation is determined by (and reveals itself in) mental and psychological states; Eliot sees, according to Harrison, sexual failure as the result and most powerful symbol of psychological breakdown - the consequence of the loss of 'religious faith', whether orthodox or unorthodox.

In this Failures between men and women, therefore, become the terms in which society's disruption is stated. In 'A Game of Chess', Eliot describes two marriages, at alternate ends of the social scale, but with a common theme of sterility. In the upper-class marriage, it seems to be the absence of any kind of deeply felt faith (which would give meaning to the couples lives) that is presented. In the lower-class marriage, it is partly economic circumstances but also, apparently, a failure to consider chastity a virtue and marriage a sacramental bond which is the problem;5

…think of poor Albert,
he's been in the army for years, he wants a good time
And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said

says the publican to Albert's wife, Lil.

Harrison, however, does hint at something else, another possibility when considering what the poem represents and it is an important hint;

The weakness of the [sexual symbol] in Eliot is that he
nowhere provides a picture of what he considers a
satisfactory sexual relationship. Sex is always described in
terms of failure. Such consistency tends not to make one
accept the symbol but to suspect the attitude of the poet,
to suspect that when he claims to describe a symptom of
modern society, he is in fact describing his own personal

beginners on the path of literary criticism are forcefully warned that to accept the literary product as the exact thoughts and sentiments of the writer is a mistake; we are told to consider the 'voice' or the 'persona' or the narrator and to dissociate the thought from the biography of the writer. But, in essence, Harrison has pointed towards , not a kind of reading that entails a laborious seeking out of biographical details from Eliot's life but, quite simply, a re-appraisal of the poem. Even if Eliot has achieved the stance of distanced, impersonal objectivity he advocates - as merely the medium - is it not possible that he has provided instead a consciousness to the poem that is far from being impersonal and detached and which is, indeed, decidedly involved with the images and ideas of the poety

Eliot's theory allows for a new poetic syntax, co-ordinated through phrases whose surface connection is unclear but whose underlying meaning is linked, possibly in the consciousness of the poem. If we attempt to disrupt the syntax in terms of Eliot's theory, however, we might find ourselves being more confused and denying ourselves access to the underlying thought. One way, then, of attempting to break down the surface syntax - that which has provided the interpretation of the work as being concerned with social decay - is by attacking the problem by burying underneath and breaking through from below; that is, to try to re-create the consciousness of the speaker of the poem.

If what we had before us , for example, was a poem entitled, "Prufrock's Waste Land", we would be in no doubt as to the effect of such an enquiry and its possible uses and revelations for we know something of Prufrock and his mind from other verse. That "The Waste Land does not identify such a person should not detract from our ability to see their implicit presence; it matters little whether this presence is that of Eliot himself, or merely a created being whose purpose is to offer a personal viewpoint, a particular response as opposed to a universal one. In this sense, it is emotions, personal emotions which provide for the cohesion which can unite the disparate feelings. Thus, what happens if we look at the imagery not in relation to the world, but in its relation to the speaker of the poem's consciousness ? What sort of person might such a speaker be with such sexual imagery of disgust and revulsion ? What if we see the speaker as a woman, for this would, without doubt alter the entire nature of the poem ? Hence, an approach via the consciousness might well offer us interesting and illuminating interpretations.

Raymond Williams notes that several of the most successful early poems of Eliot are dramatic monologues and he points out;

Their structure, from 'Prufrock' and 'Portrait of a Lady' to
'The Waste Land', is of a dramatised consciousness:
… fragments of a play rehearsed and re-enacted in the
mind. The surrogate characters, from Prufrock to
Gerontian, are ways of distancing, often grotesquely, an
Intense private feeling…7

Williams is identifying the poem as a perosnal one in direct contradiction to Eliot's theory of impersonality. Yet, Eliot himself, although not directly discussing "The Waste Land", also seems, at times, to contradict himself and we might briefly look at such instances ebfore we begin to look at the text itself.

Although it is a third hand account, Eloit's statement prefacing Valerie Eloit's facsimile version of the poem is revealing;

Various critics have done me the honour to interpret the
poem in terms of criticism of the contemporary world,
have considered it, indeed, as an important bit of social
criticism. To me it was only the relief of the personal and
wholly insignificant grouse against life; it is just a piece of
rhythmical grumbling.8

Third hand it may be, but it is wholly in keeping with other of Eliot's statements. In "Thoughts Upon Lambeth Bridge" (1931), Eliot says;

When I wrote a poem called 'The Waste Land' some of the
more approving critics said that I had expressed the 'disillusionment of a generation. I may have expressed for
them their own illusion of being disillusioned, but that did
not form part of my intention9

Perhaps Eliot's most intriguing statement is t be found in On Poetry and Poets;

A poet may believe that he is expressing only his private experience; his lines may be for him only a means of
talking about himself without giving himself away: yet
for his readers what he has written may come to be the
expression both of their own secret feelings and of the
exultation or despair of a generation. He need not know
what his poetry will come to mean to others; and a
prophet need not understand the meaning of his
prophetic utterance.10

Furthermore, in discussing the difficulty of poetry, Eliot gives as one of the possible reasons, that "there may be personal causes which make it impossible for a poet t express himself in any but an obscure way; while this is regrettable, we should be glad that the man has been able to express himself at all"11

Are we to presume, then, that what Eliot is saying in such instances is that the perceived, overt product, the poem, may be taken as impersonal but that the manufacture or creation of it is fraught with emotion and the personal ? If this is the case, does it mean that the elaborate impersonal theory of poetry provides for a method, a defence for someone wanting to write poetry about themselves without revealing this to be the case ? As we noted before, we are likely to find ourselves on uncertain ground if we directly equate Eliot's own personal life with the poem, but in this mode we can, one feels, legitimately examine the poem in terms of the speaker's consciousness as a very personal poem.

Of course, Eliot is the natural candidate for the role of speaker, a candidacy compounded by the fact that Eliot found it necessary to elucidate the poem with annotations. His claim of indebtedness to Miss Weston and Frazer can be seen as part of the obscurity that masks the personal for anyone who has ploughed through the erudite but ultimately fallacious work of Frazer's tarnished study would probably find that all energy to return to the poem had escaped them. Moreover, a reading of The Golden Bough would also influence a reading of the poem producing a response that was not intended. Indeed, quite often, many of the notes are misleading rather than helpful and any attempt to utilise them for interpretative purposes often leads the reader still further away form the poem itself.

In addition, one cannot overlook the influence of Ezra pound in his editing of Eliot's original draft of the poem. Some critics might say that we should examine the text as we have it, the 1922 version, but the coming to light of the manuscripts of the poem has shown just how much Pound revised the text and, in so doing, perhaps, altered Eliot's original intention. Consequently, in our examination of the text, we shall also be looking at those sections which Pound eliminated during editing in order to find Eliot's poems rather than just Pound's conception of what the poem should look like. This effort will help us to get below the surface, not necessarily to conclude that Eliot is the consciousness but to see just what or who the consciousness is, or represents. And it is to the image of sexuality that we can, selectively, turn.

Harrison is quite correct when he ascribes to the symbol of sexuality (and specifically) sexual failure such an intrinsic role within the poem (although, as we shall see, it is the speaker's response to sexuality that is most illuminating). Eliot's original opening to the poem gives an account of a night of merry-making by a group of young men involving drinking, a near arrest for "committing a nuisance" and individual adventures 9with one member of the group reporting his unsuccessful attempt to get a woman at "Myrtle's Place".12 The speaker remains amongst the anonymous "we" until near the end of the passage when, as his companions rush off energetically, he goes off finally by himself. There is in this unpublished section a sense of innocence on the speaker's part, a sense that we are at the prelude to the loss of that innocence, before the onset of anguish that comes with that loss.

The published opening of the poem comes in complete contrast. The passage with the young men is clearly reminiscence, but now we are in the present:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain
(ll. 1-4)

the arrival of spring brings past associations as the speaker's memory and past (dull roots) are re-awakened. But now there is no innocence, only deadness. The speaker continues with a memory;

Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Knigssee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade
And went in sunlight, into Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, talking an hour
(ll. 5-11)

Up to this point we might guess that the poem is to be one treating of past love, a love that was fulfilled but which now has ended and ended unhappily for the speaker: the rain shower and sunlight are suggestive of happiness and fruition, not only in nature but personally too. When the speaker's voice is next heard, it is of the bleak and barren present:

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish ? Son of Man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images…
(ll. 19-22)

The tone has changed dramatically form the opening, musing, almost smiling first ten lines o so, to a harsh, almost self-taunting voice. It is almost as if the speaker is rebuking himself for allowing himself to have such memories of the past stirred, for they are but, "A heap of broken images". Nevertheless, the memories clearly remain alive in the present and seem to nag at the speaker throughout the poem, even when such memories dissolve into metaphor.

The quotation form "Tristan and Isolde" reminds us that Tristan chose his wife because she had the same name as the woman he loved. This is followed immediately by an enigmatic and cryptic passage:

"You gave me hyacinths first a year ago:
They called me the hyacinth girl!"
- Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence
(ll. 35-41)

Again we have a memory recounted, a memory of past time, of happiness and promise that, now, no longer exists, the fact of which haunts the speaker. Pound questioned the first two lines of this passage in the manuscript and they certainly seem strange for the implication is that it is the speaker who is the 'hyacinth girl'. Are we to assume that the speaker is, after all, female ? This can not be presumed to be so from the rest of the poem. Some interpreters have also been puzzled by Eliot's connection of hyacinth with female. As Grover Smith points out, the hyacinth is a "sexual symbol", a "male symbol".13 In the story of Hyacinth, Appollo (who loves the boy) accidentally kills him. Appollo's grief was intense

Where is my guilt except playing
With you, in loving you ? I cannot die
For you, or with you either; the law of Fate
Keeps us apart: it shall not ! You will be
With me forever, and my songs and music
Will tell of you, and you will be reborn
As a new flower 14

Dare we assume that both the speaker and his loved one are male ? This would not necessarily entail a homosexual relationship, but one of companionship and spiritual love. The language of the hyacinth passage resounds with an atmosphere of bliss, the speaker sees "into the heart of light", to a perfect silence of mystical attraction.

At this point, the tone changes again. We are in the past, but it is something of an intermediate past. Madam Sosostris is telling the speaker's fortune and we are informed of the speaker's circumstances;

Here said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes, Look!)
here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the wheel…
(ll. 46-50)
The picture is now set. The drowned sailor is the past, now dead, friend, belladonna a woman of the future and, possibly then, the present, especially since she is the "Lady of the Rocks", the present wasteland which the speaker has already described (cf. ll.24-26) with the rocks now being a place of shelter. The speaker himself is the Fisher King, "the man with three staves", emasculated and impotent.

Does this suggest that his relationship with the woman is not as fulfilled as that with his past friend ? In the "one-eyed merchant", the speaker clearly asserts that the past friendship was not homosexual, for the merchant re-appears later in "The Fire Sermon", "unshaven" and makes the homosexual offer of a "weekend at the Metropole" which is rebuffed. The attraction of the friend seems to have been far different to that of a purely sexual attraction. The line referring to the dead sailor, "(Those are pearls which were his eyes. Look!)" compares with the unfavoured "one-eyed merchant" but also, as a meditated image on the part of the speaker, has more to do with the friend's death than being of a purely physical attribute, the line being taken from The Tempest:

Full fathom five my father lies
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
(Act I, scene ii)

Throughout the poem there is reference to drowning and water and it is no surprise when the clairvoyant warns the speaker to "…fear death by water"(l.55). we might even assume that this is indeed the manner in which the speaker's friend met his death.

Following the fortune telling and the prophecies, the poem presents us with a picture of modern London. But, it is a London turned by the speaker into a modern "Inferno", the streets flowing with the living dead, the soulless and forlorn offspring of modern society's daily grind, "each man fixed his eyes before his feet" (l. 65). The closing lines of this section, spoken to Stetson, echo with imagery of death and the speaker seems to identify with Stetson, himself one of the living dead. Both Stetson and the speaker have planted a corpse - a memory, something from their past - that may blossom later in strange ways. The speaker's exhortation, "Oh keep the dog far hence, that friend to man" (l. 74) is also found in the manuscript but, there, the line is more one of disapproval for the dog is not a "friend" but a "foe", another external agent that could rake up the memory from below the ground before it has had a chance to re-sprout properly; buried, there remains the chance for the memory to remain beautiful and private but, if it is dug up too soon by someone other than the person who planted it, it might prove to grow into a horrible vision of old bones (the physical reality of death) rather than something more ethereal.

Thus ends section One of "The Waste Land". We have learned that the speaker , now in the "unreal city" (that, in the manuscript only "sometimes" witnessed the crowd of the living dead, perhaps in moments of despair), has had a relationship in the past that has ended in the death of the other person. Now, however, the speaker is involved in a relationship with a woman with whom he is unhappy. From this point on, in the "unreal city", we are shown a selection of images (including sex) none of which is savoury. It is interesting to note that Eliot's original title for "A Game of Chess" was "In the Cage", a title relevant to the speaker's own feelings of being hemmed in both by his relationship with the woman and by the city that holds no life for him: his stasis. It also relates, somewhat obscurely, to the rats that appear later, caged rats being especially vicious and full of the latent violence that comes form such a feeling of being confined.

In Part II, then, the speaker is again in almost present time, with the woman, "Belladonna". His mind wanders, conjuring images of the woman as she combs her hair. The metaphor used here is appropriate, for Cleopatra (in Shakespeare's version of the story) makes Antony impotent in his command, so much so that he becomes unable to commit himself to his true career as he finds himself bewitched by Cleopatra's sexuality. Moreover, the sense of vanity and material wealth which is derived from the descriptions of her becomes an indictment of the speaker's female companion and her values. The speaker arrives with, "shuffled", hesitant footsteps as she is brushing her hair.

We are witnessing the preparations for an evening out, culminating in the speaker's return with the woman. The evening has clearly been a trying one and the woman is suffering from the tension ("My nerves are bad tonight") of the relationship as it founders:

"Stay with me
Speak to me. Why do you never speak ? Speak.
What are you thinking of ? What thinking ? What ?
I never know what you are thinking. Think.
(ll. 111-114)

It is an almost despairing effort to maintain some kind of rapport on her part, but the speaker's mind drifts; "I think we are in rats' alley…", caged, trapped in a situation which brings no joy, In the manuscript, this line reads differently:

I think we first met in rats' alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.15

The manuscript version suggest that the relationship was never a joyous one, that it has always been a situation of two people being forced into a corner, to live unhappily pressed together. It also suggests that the relationship was begun shortly after the death of the speaker's friend, perhaps to replace what had been lost in the despair of rats' alley. The woman continues, nervously, to try to make conversation but the speaker's thoughts remain fixed upon another scene. Again, the published version provides an illuminating difference:

You know nothing ? Do you see nothing ? do you remember
Nothing ?"
I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes
Are you alive, or not ? Is there nothing in your head ?
(ll. 121-126)

The woman's frustrated outburst is in response to the "nothing, again nothing" of the speaker's silence towards her. The speaker remembers the friend (Those are pearls that were his eyes) and, in the manuscript he also remembers the happy times of the past; "I remember/The hyacinth garden."

Almost trivially, the speaker recalls the evening they have spent together ("O O O that Shakespearean rag - /It's so elegant/ so intelligent) almost in a jazz song rhythm but the woman is unimpressed. Prepared, it would seem, for the speaker to stay with her she finds him unaroused by her sexuality and exclaims, "What shall we ever do ?". in contrast, the speaker's response is dispassionate and suggestive of the tedium that characterises 9at least for the speaker) the state of their relationship:

And we shall play a game of chess.
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.
(ll. 137-138)

The manuscript adds that "the ivory men make company between us" and the scene becomes an exposition of the sexually unfulfilled nature of their relationship, one where there is only a breakdown of communication and a lack of emotional commitment; "Pressing lidless eyes", desperately trying to stay awake rather than face the uncomfortable option of going to bed where physical contact may result, waiting for the knock on the door for company to arrive and relieve the torture of being alone together or having to consummate their relationship.

The scene in the pub which follows is a memory which surely provides a comment on the preceding scene. In contrast to the speaker, Albert is a lusty man with a wife so beleaguered by constant pregnancies that have left her, at thirty one years old, looking like an old woman. But the speaker's emphasis here (though the selection of detail) is surely upon the fact that Albert has a right to his wife's body, something the speaker himself is loathe to demand in his own marriage (for this must be the relationship he has with his female companion).

Again, the manuscript offers an interesting addition for, at the end of the scene, it is Eliot's wife who added the line, "What you get married for if you don't want to have children"16 and, in a second copy of this passage, Eliot himself appends the same line. This line, however is not the voice of the publican. Rather it is the voice of either the speaker (guiltily admonishing himself for his barren and fruitless marriage) or that of his wife, taunting him for the self same reason, their unfulfilled (sexually and in respect to lack of children) marriage.

Section III of the poem begins in the manuscript with the Fresca Couplets,17 all of which were excised by Pound but which are worth examining, if only briefly. Fresca is a lady of leisure, but the images of her that we see are repelling. Given the state of mind of the speaker as it has developed to this stage in the poem it is, perhaps, not surprising to find such an anti-female passage. Fresca awakes, "Aroused from dreams of love and pleasant rapes" - the two are not mutually compatible for rape is not pleasant and love and rape are hardly bedfellows. In using these terms the speaker (who is not consciously speaking but is rather more like an observer) immediately identifies Fresca as a sexual being but he does not give us time to become attracted to her for he immediately coarsens her fine manner by referring to her lavatory habits where she reads Richardson's book (presumably Clarissa a story of rape and an exposition of the Rake's Code through Lovelace, an aggressive, sexual male).

As with the pub scene, the emphasis from the speaker is clearly placed on the revulsion felt at the thought of aggressive male sexuality (cf the passage concerning Philomel's brutal rape there) that the speaker feels women require of men in general and of himself in particular. There is revulsion also at female sexuality in these couplets as the speaker refers, in cynical tones, to "that hearty female stench" (the odour of female sexual arousal). Women, in the speaker's mind, are all the same:

(The same eternal and consuming itch
Can make a martyr or plain simple bitch)
Or prudent sly domestic puss puss cat
Or Autumn's favourite in a furnished flat,
Or strolling slattern in a tawdry gown
A doorstep dunged by every dog in town.
For varying forms, one definitions right:
Unreal emotions and real appetite.18

Here, there is no mistaking the speaker's attitude towards sex in general and women in particular. The use of a host of animal images immediately places the sexual act into the area of animal (and, therefore, non-intelligent, non-rational) activity; sex is seen as a process of instinct motivated only by lust and animal passions.

Had the Fresca couplets remained in the 1922 version, a sympathetic view of the typist (who appears later in the poem) would have been almost impossible. For the Fresca couplets are so damning of women and their sexual natures (as the speaker perceives them), the eternal, consuming itch, that women become whores, not to me so much as to their own passions. Finally, the speaker seems to feel that all women can be defined by the line, "Unreal emotions and real appetite" for women demand sexual gratification and activity from men. The speaker's relationship with his male friend, however, had been the opposite, it had been more spiritual, asexual, undemanding.

The 1922 version of "The Fire Sermon" begins with bleak images. It is the "unreal city" that the speaker sees again. "The nymphs have departed" for there is nothing to hod them to the river, their male lovers having gone too. The speaker now assumes the role of the Fisher King (who in Arthurian legend is maimed, sexually impotent, euphemistically wounded through the thigh) and is again in rats' alley surrounded by death and sterility. He fishes in a dull canal but catches nothing in his wasteland "behind the gas-house". Jessie Weston's comment on the fisher-king can, here at least, provide a useful comment:

…there can be no possible doubt…[that] the condition of
the king is sympathetically reflected on the land, the loss
of virility in the one brings about a suspension of the
reproductive processes of Nature on the other. The same
effect would naturally be the result of the death of the
sovereign upon whose vitality these processes depend"19

The speaker's virility has already been called into question, and the occurrence of the wasteland seems an inevitable consequence; that it is not a real, observable wasteland, but a wasteland of the mind's eye is the important point to make - that is, it is a wasteland only in the speaker's view a wasteland which has come about through the speaker's lack of sexual desire or virility (as Fisher King) and through his wretched lack of purpose in the, to him "unreal city" which is lacking joy because it does not contain, on the simplest level, that which he really desires, the relationship with his friend.

The next main scene (after the Mr Eugenides scene already mentioned above) is the typist scene and we have already noted how this would have presented itself had the Fresca couplets remained in the poem. Nevertheless, there is still sufficient reason to suggest that the scene is not only one of seduction by the clerk (and is not, therefore, only an exposition of male sexual wilfulness). The speaker becomes Tiresias, the bisexual observer (and, being bisexual, theoretically able to offer an impartial viewpoint). Tiresias' sexuality here, however, is of his past. Eliot claims (in his footnotes) that what Tiresias sees, "is the substance of the poem" and, in many respects he is not misleading us when he says this.

The typist awaits the clerk. She ahs been trying on various items of clothing (which are now piled on the divan) in order to present herself the most appealingly to her visitor. This scene again evokes disdani for active male sexual aggression but it should be noted that the speaker makes no attempt to portray the typist in more favourable terms thatn he does the clerk. The clerk, finding that his sexual advances are not rebuffed, has intercourse with the typist. He is certainly not a figure of charm and the speaker's disgust is directed at him though his physical description, "the young man carbuncular". His desire satisfied, the clerk leaves. Their encounter has been sexual, physical; there is no love between them. Moreover, we are given the impression that the clerk's sexual ability failed to satisfy the typist. After he leaves,

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover.
(ll. 249-250)

We are led to the conclusion that it is almost as if nothing had happened between them or that, remembering the Fresca Couplets, her passion and desire had not come close to being quenched by the clerk, that she requires more than the clerk alone can offer her. There is, of course, the implication from the speaker that the purely sexual relationship is far inferior to a spiritual one. However, it seems that the typist will pursue her sexual desires, as she has done in the past, her "automatic hand" suggesting that this is not the first time she has yielded to such sexual yearnings, nor will it be the last.

In Part IV, the speaker recalls his emotional, spiritual friendship of the past, providing a contrast with the typist scene with it's soulless sexual union. We are reminded of the speaker's friendship and its opposition to the repugnantly depicted, animal physicality of the typist and the clerk's union. Here, in the past friendship, can be found a beauty of togetherness which is beyond the purely sexual, a sense of cherished companionship, even after death has severed the physical link.

The manuscript gives some eighty lines which precede the published lines of Part IV. These lines narrate the story of a sea voyage that ends in both disaster and success.20 When the fish begin to shoal and the fishermen are catching plenty, the men "laughed and thought/Of home, and dollars and the pleasant violin/At Marm Brown's joint, and the girls and gin." The speaker, however, does not laugh for he knows of the danger to come; not being able to look others in the face and most of all the sirens, the women who will tempt the boat onto the rocks;

One night
On watch, I thought I saw in the fore cross-trees
Three women leaning forward with white hair
Streaming behind, who sang above the wind
A song that charmed my senses, while I was
Frightened beyond fear, horrified past horror…21

The ship moves on to the ice-walls and frozen sterility

By Part V we are beginning to approach what would appear to be something of a watershed in the speaker's mind. The constant repetition of "After" is reminiscent of Whitman's poetry, but here it is a kind of summation, bringing us back to the present time. It is a conclusion that is not a conclusion, for the speaker has yet to resolve his feelings. Again we have the images of aridity and sterility, "rock and no water" and also a plea for the speaker's own condition; "If there were only water amongst the rock"(l. 338). It is almost as if the speaker wishes he could love his own wife in the same way that he had loved his friend. His wife and his marriage, symbolised, or alluded to, by the rock might prove less unattractive if the waters of spiritual commitment flowed unhindered by sexual barriers:

If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water
(ll. 345-358)

The water is pure, clean, untainted; the rock is dry, barren and unfertile. If there were some spiritual content (water) which could soften the physical (rock) then perhaps his marriage would be more harmonious.
"But there is no water", no spiritual love which is the thing the speaker needs for fulfilment and which he had had with his friend. The speaker is lamenting that his wife can not offer him the kind of love he needs (nor can he offer the kind of love she needs), the kind of love he had found in the past. But nothing will change. As the speaker realise in his question, "who is the third who always walks beside you ?" It is, of course, the memory of his dead friend that the speaker sees beside his wife (and to which she must compare), a memory that prevents him from having anything more than an unfulfilled relationship with her. It is a memory that, like a ghost with no resting place, must wander the "unreal" earth.

In this then, the poem has, to a large degree, been a working through and laying to rest of the speaker's troubled thoughts and memories. The Grail Knight finds the Grail in the chapel and cures the emasculated Fisher King by the same act. The wasteland is restored with the coming of rain - the final tears that now signal the laying to rest of the memory of the dead friend.

The final thirty lines are attributed to the thunder, but still remain the words of the speaker with whom we have passed through a mental barrier to find a sense of understanding (and almost a sense of relief on the part of the speaker at his new-found awareness of the nature of his unhappiness).The speaker can now talk of his friend with a quiet calm, can also rationalise what has been going through his mind and where his course now lies:

Datta: what have we given ?
My friend, blood shaking my heart.
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract.
(ll. 401-404)

It is tempting to consider here whether or not the relationship with the friend did, in fact have homosexual leanings. Certainly these lines might suggest that, a "moment's surrender" might well have been the physical fulfilment of an otherwise asexual love. However, even if it was just so, the nature of the relationship would still appear to be more spiritual than physical, where the surrender is merely an expression of the spiritual, rather than an expression of the carnal.

The manuscript gives a much more personal expression of these lines, an expression much more clearly linked to the dead friend:

We brother, what have we given ?
My friend, my friend, beating in my heart. 22

The relationship endures in the memory:

Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only

Dayadhvam means sympathise and here the speaker seems to be expressing his sympathy with his dead friend; both of them have been imprisoned in a way, the speaker by his memories and the friend by death. In a sense also, the speaker is calling to the reader and asking for us to sympathise with his predicament in a world where prudence might not understand or condone the nature of his relationship with his friend.

The final Da, "Damyata" means control, self-control in this instance, exemplified by the episode in the boat where perhaps a full-blown homosexual encounter might possibly have happened but did not. It is also the control that is gained over oneself (that is, the speaker) as he finally accepts what has been troubling him and comes to terms with his emotional and spiritual self.

The poem ends with the Fisher King, the arid plain of the wasteland now behind him. All that is left is for him to re-enter his real world and to build for himself, if he can, a more fulfilled relationship with is wife, putting order in his real and spiritual world again. London Bridge is (in the speaker's world) falling down but, "these fragments" are shored against such ruin, providing the support and comfort needed to secure his world. This last section, with its purifying fire sums up the speaker's thoughts about himself and is concluded with a re-affirmation of his new principles.

Finally, comes the sigh of relief:

Shantih Shantih Shantih
(l. 434)

Eliot himself translates this as, "the peace which passeth understanding", for everything now has been made clear and resolvable and a new start can be made, not one which neglects the past and its memories but one which accepts that the place for those memories is not in the here and now.

In On Poetry and Poets, Eliot sums up, perhaps, the speaker's consciousness most appropriately. Talking of the poet expressing an obscure impulse he says:

He does not know what he has to say until he has said it…
He is oppressed by a burden which he must bring forth in
order to obtain relief. Or, to change the figure of speech, he
is haunted by a demon, a demon against which he feels
powerless, because in its first manifestation it has no face,
no name, nothing: and the words, the poem he makes, are
a kind of form of exorcism of this demon.23

How much we can say that Eliot's own life is really the substance of the poem is debatable (certainly Eliot had a close attachment in his youth to a young man, Jean Verdenal, with whom he may have had an asexual, even a homosexual love affair; moreover, in later life his first wife was rumoured to have enjoyed various sexual liaisons outside their marriage). Whether the speaker's voice is that of Eliot or not, we have found, through the text, a new standpoint, one which does not detract form the notion of the poem as representing a critique of a nation; the only difference lies in emphasis, in the fact that the poem deals with a personal waste land, not a universal one. Moreover, what that personal viewpoint allows for is that each one of us can encounter our own wastelands, wastelands which we must overcome within ourselves. To do this we too must go through the process of understanding and accepting what it is that brings such wastelands to being in our minds.


1. T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland: a facsimile and transcript ed. V. Eliot (Faber & Faber, 1971)

2. "Tradition and the Individual Talent" in Selected Prose ed.
F. Kermode (Faber & Faber, 1975) p.41

3. Ibid, p. 41

4. J.R. Harrison, The Reactionaries (Gollanz, 1966) p. 147

5. Ibid, p. 145

6. Ibid, p. 145

7. R. Williams, Drama from Ibsen to Brecht (Chatto & Windus, 1968, repr.Penguin, 1981) p.193

8. The Waste Land: facsimile, p.1

9. T.S. Eliot, "Thoughts after Lambeth" in Selected Essays (New York, 1950) p.324

10. T.S. Eliot, On Poetry and Poets (London, 1959, repr. 1961) p. 137

11. T.S. Eliot, "The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism" in Selected Prose, p. 92

12. The Waste Land: facsimile, p.6

13. G. Smith, T.S Eliot's Poetry and Plays (Chicago, 1956) p.24-25 quoted in J. Miller, T.S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land (Pennsylbvania State University, 1977) p.71

14. Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. R. Humphries (Indiana University Press, 1961) p.240, quoted in Miller, p.71

15. The Waste Land: facsimile, p.17

16. Ibid pp. 15 and 21

17. Ibid pp. 3, 37, 39.41

18. Ibid p. 41

19. J. Weston, From Ritual to Romance (New York, 1957) p.23

20. The Waste Land: facsimile, pp.55-61

21. Ibid, p. 59

22. Ibid, p. 77

23. On poetry and Poets, p.107


1. For the quotations from "Prufrock" and "Gerontion," we have referred to Ellmann and R. O'Clair, eds, The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (1973, New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1988) 242-5 and 248-90, respectively.

2. Eliot has embodied his ideas in his poetry [as well as his plays]. Although this is not meant to say that his poetry is the literary epitome of a conservative writer-critic whining about the goings-on of the world. In both "Prufrock" and "Gerontion" he certainly diagnoses "the disintegration of Christendom, the decay of common belief and a common culture." [Eliot's words, qtd. in Northop Frye, T. S. Eliot (1963, New York: Oliver & Boyd, 1972) 8.
3. Eliot has developed three different but interrelated senses of culture. Accordingly, religion is an indispensable element in one's culture. While, on the one hand, Eliot asserts that both the masses and the elite should claim their cultural heritage; on the other, he distinguishes them in that the latter should have the leading impulse and the cultural consciousness. For more information, see his articles, "The Three Senses of Culture" and "The Class and the Elite" in Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1943, London: Faber and Faber, 1972) 24;37.
4. Bradley's concept of reality has had a great impact on Eliot. See H. Kenner, The Invisible Poet: T. S. Eliot (London: W. H. Allen, 1960) 48. Inspired by the philosophy of Bradley, on whom he has written a dissertation, Eliot thinks that there is inevitably a dualism in time and space. The subject as the knowing and the object as the known are thus split in time and space. It is consequently impossible for one to attain the ultimate reality because everything is present only in appearance and every level of consciousness has only a relative access to truth. For more information on Eliot's concept of reality, see his Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of Bradley (London: Faber and Faber, 1964) 112. Eliot's philosophical ideas have some affiliations with Bergsonian philosophy, too. See Paul Douglas, Bergson, Eliot & American Literature (Kentucky: U of Kentucky P, 1986 ) 17-26.
5. We are using the Kierkegaardian term here, quoted in R.W. Hurton, ed., Backgrounds of American Literary Thought (New York: Appleton Century Cruft, 1967) 461.
6. By "doppelganger" we are referring to a case of split personality, otherwise called "alter ego," "double"; and by "confidante" we are alluding to the confidante in the neo-classical French theatre in whom a character can confide, since Prufrock always tends to slip into his own consciousness.
7. Eloise Knapp Hay, T.S. Eliot`s Negative Way (Cambridge and London: Harward U P, 1982 ) 16.
8. Raymond Tschumi, Thought in Twentieth Century Poetry (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1947) 129.

9. See T.S. Eliot`s "Tradition and the Individual Talent" in R.C. Davis and L. Finke, eds, Literary Criticism and Theory: The Greeks to the Present (New York & London: Longman, 1989) 590-1.

10. A. G. George, T.S. Eliot: His Mind and Art (1962, New York: Asia Publishing House, 1969) 130.
11. F.O. Mathiessen, The Achievement of T.S.Eliot (New York: Oxford U P, 1959) 53 .
12. Kierkegaard groups human beings in terms of their existential status: the aesthetic, and religious. Prufrock falls into the first category; he, accordingly, cannat lead a "genuine existence." For more information on the existential categories, see Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, trans. W. Lawrie (New York: Doubleday, 1959), quoted in Cahill Andrey, T.S. Eliot and the Human Predicament (Petermaritzburg, South Africa : U of Natal P, 1967) 2-3.
13.George Williamson , "Prufrock and Other Observations," Reader`s Guide to T.S Eliot (London : Thomas and Hudson ,1967),57-8.
14. Anthony L. Johnson, Sign and Structure in the Poetry of T.S Eliot (Italy: Editor Technio Scientifia, 1976) 24.
15. Ashok Kumar Jha, Oriental Influneces in T.S.Eliot (Allahabad: Kitab Mahal, 1988) 67.
16. Hamlet`s procrastination is part of his determined and planned nature. As Lucas writes of him, Hamlet is "the typical man of thought who cannot act; too much brain, too little will." [see F.L. Lucas, Literature and Psychology (London, Toronto, Melbourne: Cassel & Co., 1951) 54.] Feder describes Hamlet`s dilemma as an expression of "the true self, explicit revaluations of reason or sanity that exclude the traditional forms of logic, order and judgement occuring generally in phyhic and social alienation." [Lilian Feder, Madness in literature (Princeton; Princeton UP, 1980) 98.
17. "...why looke you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me; you would play upon me; and there is much Musicke / Excellent Musicke in this little Organ... [3.2.39]." Hamlet's words are from the facsimile of the 1703 edition of Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet (London: Lornmarket, 1969). Hamlet's words refer to his psychological dilemma caused by the whereabouts of his father's sudden death, and personality split.
18. Concerning the aging anxiety of Prufrock, see E. J. H. Greene, T. S. Eliot et la France (Paris: Editions Contemporaries, n.d.) 44.

19. See Franco Moretti, Interpretazioni di Eliot (Rome: Savelli, 1975) 119.
20. Barbara Rupp, Der Begriff der gesellschaflichen Reprasentaz am Beispiel der Lyric Thomas Stearns Eliots und Ortshestimmung innerhalb der, Geschichte der ecriture' (Frankfurt: Europaische Hochschulschriften, 1973) 113.

21. Rupp 120.
22. Ronald Tamplin, A Preface to Eliot (London & New York: Longman, 1988) 58.
23. Compare this to Prufrock's line: "How should I presume?"
24. George 138.
25. G. Smith, T. S. Eliot's Poetry and Plays (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1956) 59-63.
26. G. Williamson 113.


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