Myths in T.S Eliot's the Wasteland

Submitted by- Yamini Sinha
Submitted to- Dr. Praggya M. Singh
MAE   301
21st October 2013

Myths in T.S   Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’

T S Eliot’s poem ‘The Wasteland’ has diverse sources, which he is brings together in a unified form.’ The Wasteland’, which was written as a reaction to World War I is a poem not merely of despair, but of hope and regeneration. It is a call for renewal, for revival of the modern world. The war was a shock to the world; Eliot feared of it becoming barren and thoughtless. That bareness could mean the loss of myth, the loss of unifying theme. While going through this poem we are able to understand Eliot’s use of myths as a device to unite modern society with the ancient world. He wanted to find a literary method which may show the relationship of the present with the past. The problems of mankind are the same, though spaced by time. The solutions tried in the past and which have been proved successful could be tried in the present because the crisis is the same. Eliot, therefore, chose the mythical methods to establish a parallel between the ancient world and the modern world. The comparison and contrast between the myths in the past and the solutions in the modern world bring out the poem’s meaning. Eliot gives his comments on the present on modern world through myths. Eliot was influenced by two important books which threw light on ancient and the modern world, these were Jessie Weston’s ‘From Ritual to Romance’ and James Frazer’s ‘The Golden Bough’. Eliot alludes to these and many other sources in attempt to suggest the mode of salvation for a war-torn society, a society which may have lost its faith in the myths of earlier days. 

 Each of the poem’s four sections deal with a separate topic, a separate theme, but the one section perhaps most crucial to acquainting the reader with Eliot’s intentions and perspective is the first, ‘The Burial of the Dead’.  The phrase ‘The Burial of the Dead’ brings to the mind several...