Title

Wasted Women: Modern Oppressions in the Waste Land

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

T.S. Eliot has frequently been criticized for his misogynistic treatment of women in his poetry. Few, however, have considered the role his portrayal of women plays in supporting his poetic themes. The narrative space of “The Waste Land” is dominated primarily by women, both contemporary and mythical, who illustrate the brutal relationship between men and women. This intensely personal relationship, however, is analogous to the relationship of the individual and society; like the individual, the women must make the decision to either speak out against their oppressors or keep silent and accept their circumstances. Either option places women at risk of further subjugation. In this way, the wasted scenography of “The Waste Land” acts as the backdrop to a crippled social world populated by subjugated individuals struggling to find their voice. Eliot portrays the female voice as the struggle against the ruined communication that characterizes the modern world. Contemporary and mythical characters converge in the poem, revealing the ineffectiveness of communication in a world where power barriers exist between the sexes. By juxtaposing a mythical woman from Ovid’s Metamorphoses against a contemporary character from “The Waste Land,” I demonstrate how far the poem’s theme of social breakdown extends into our own society.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 12th, 10:20 AM Apr 12th, 10:40 AM

Wasted Women: Modern Oppressions in the Waste Land

UC 332

T.S. Eliot has frequently been criticized for his misogynistic treatment of women in his poetry. Few, however, have considered the role his portrayal of women plays in supporting his poetic themes. The narrative space of “The Waste Land” is dominated primarily by women, both contemporary and mythical, who illustrate the brutal relationship between men and women. This intensely personal relationship, however, is analogous to the relationship of the individual and society; like the individual, the women must make the decision to either speak out against their oppressors or keep silent and accept their circumstances. Either option places women at risk of further subjugation. In this way, the wasted scenography of “The Waste Land” acts as the backdrop to a crippled social world populated by subjugated individuals struggling to find their voice. Eliot portrays the female voice as the struggle against the ruined communication that characterizes the modern world. Contemporary and mythical characters converge in the poem, revealing the ineffectiveness of communication in a world where power barriers exist between the sexes. By juxtaposing a mythical woman from Ovid’s Metamorphoses against a contemporary character from “The Waste Land,” I demonstrate how far the poem’s theme of social breakdown extends into our own society.