Optimism versus Pessimism in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land
In this dissertation, I'd like to examine hope vs. despair in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land. In this discussion, I want principally to demonstrate this poem as a masterpiece through which Eliot tries to say that from death and sorrow emerge a new hope of rebirth and resurrection.
The Waste Land, in my view, is a contemplative poem through which T. S. Eliot represents the two essential elements of the human being's creation which are birth and death. At first glance, the world depicted in the poem is senseless, gloomy and incapable of revival. In fact, by depicting such images of a deteriorated world, Eliot may want to convey an idea that out of sorrow and death arise hope, and a new promise of life. Therefore, I want the scope of this research to be about analyzing the poem as a good omen of regeneration and rebirth.
The main points I would like to include in this dissertation:
1. Firstly, I'd like to mention briefly some well-known critics who demonstrated and analyzed this poem as a melancholic depiction of a degenerated world, then I'd like to discuss that this poem is entirely optimistic. It is about the hope after depression and rebirth after death.
2. In order to demonstrate the poem as an optimistic one, I'd like to discuss the following point:
* The relationship between 'form' and 'content'. The fragmentation of the poem : At first sight, in my view, the poem appears as a fragmented and disordered work which does not display a combined view. But all the allusions, scenes and myths used by Eliot are introduced on purpose to give a consistent shape of the poem. Moreover, regarding form and content, I'd like to show the "music" of this poem that Eliot hides behind the form of the poem, and which, in turn, gives a united shape of the poem.
* Myths, allusions and figures: The Waste Land has been portrayed with various classical myths and historical figures in order to confirm the idea of rebirth and restoration. Some major myths I'd like to include are : the Vegetation myth, The Holy Grail, the story of the Fisher King, the myth of Tiresias, the Philomela myth, the figure of Phlebas, , the Phoenician and the myth of Tiresias. Besides, Eliot employs many literary and cultural allusions from the Western canon, Buddhism and the Hindu Upanishads.
* The Four Elements: I'd like to discuss that the five parts of the poem show a kind of an interaction among the four elements of nature like water and fire, and this, in turn, means life.
* the "city" as a recurrent symbol. The 'city' as a symbol of loss and redemption. I'd like to discuss how Eliot employs the 'city' as a symbol of revival. I'd like, if possible, to refer to the writings of Charles Baudelaire about the symbol of the "city" and Urban landscape in comparison with how Eliot demonstrates the "city" in The Waste Land .
* I'd like to discuss how Eliot employs the images of 'lilacs', 'hyacinth', 'Tarot pack', ' Belladonna – Lady of the Rocks ' and 'The Hanged Man'.
This is a list of some major references I'd like to use together with references you recommend :
1| . The Waste Land: Critique of the Myth, , Cleanth Brooks
2 T. S. Eliot: The Design of His Poetry , Elizabeth Drew
3| "Ulysses, Order, and Myth".,T. S. Eliot
4| The Complete Poems and Plays of T. S. Eliot., T. S. Eliot
5| Selected Essays, T. S. Eliot
6| The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion,
J. G Frazer
7| A Collection of Critical Essays on The Waste Land. Jay Martin.
8| The Figure of the Crowd in Early Modern London. The City and its Double. , Ian Munro
9| From Ritual to Romance, , Jessie L Weston