We’ve spent three sessions looking at The Waste Land, and we need to move on to discuss other great twentieth-century poems, but it is such a dense, allusive poem that we’ve really only scratched the surface. I hope you’ve managed to get a good grasp of the key themes, figures and stylistic features of the poem, but please add any thoughts or questions you have about the poem in the comments below.
In particular, in class today we talked about the particular images or tropes I’d asked you to concentrate on, in small groups, on Tuesday. You might want to write about what you found below, especially if you missed class.
Alternatively, you might want to think about the following questions in relation to the fifth and final section of The Waste Land, ‘What the Thunder Said’.
- Does this final section offer the hope of rebirth, and if so, for whom, or for what?
- Does the thunder bring rain?
- How do you interpret the commands of the thunder?
- What is the significance of Eliot’s use of the Hindu holy text, the Upanishad, here?
- Look in particular at the section from line 427 to the end of the poem. This is perhaps the most concentrated collection of allusions and fragments in the poem. Do these lines promise hope, or suggest despair? Or are they ambiguous?
If you have thoughts about any or all of these questions, please add them below.