Under the Shadow of this Red Rock: Reading T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land for its Places, Persons, and Poetics Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/2j62s6963

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  • Thomas Stearns Eliot’s 1922 modernist poem The Waste Land presents itself as an alternative to the decaying society Eliot found himself inhabiting. It begins as a personal means of pulling together one’s fragmented consciousness, but in doing so Eliot manages to present a solution to a world of selfishness—looking beyond ourselves. Through a careful study of the landscapes and urban scenes Eliot presents we can see the progress of his characters’ fates over the course of five seasons. A close look at these individuals populating The Waste Land will further enlighten our search for answers to the drought. Finally, Eliot’s rich language will be its own ambiguous key to enlightenment, demanding that we critically consider the scenarios he presents. Along the way, Eliot will invoke an enormous number of literary and cultural sources to create the tale’s framework, from Dante and Chaucer to Whitman and F. H. Bradley. The poet will also draw from religious traditions of the world, with a particular influence on Buddhism and Christianity to help navigate his wilderness. All the while, the tarot deck and Arthurian myth cycle will be our dubious guides. But at last, the journey will be worth it.
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