A Game of Chess: by T.S. Eliot - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

      Introduction: A Game of Chess is a device used by Middleton in the play entitled Women beware Women where this game is played to hide the seduction of a young girl by a noble man. In this section, the poet indicates the failure of sex-relationship in the modern world. Sex has become a purely physical kind of entertainment and has lost its moral and social purpose. Sex perversities both in high and low life, have become a matter of mechanical routine.


      The first scene is laid in the drawing room of a fashionable lady called the lady of situations who is an expert in sex intrigues. Her drawing room is gorgeous and smells of voluptuousness. The paintings and other works of art refer to stories of ancient love and rape. The story of Philomel, the raped girl who was transformed into Nightingale - is a symbol of purification through suffering but in modern times, love has degenerated into lust and there is no hope of regeneration.

The first scene is laid in the drawing room of a fashionable lady called the lady of situations who is an expert in sex intrigues.
A Game of Chess

      The lady of situation is waiting for her lover, who arrives after sometime. She complains of headaches which is representative of nervous break-down of a modern woman. After some petty conversation, the lady wishes to run out into the streets. Her empty, aimless routine represents the barren life of a modern woman. She has to follow the dull routine, hot water bath in the morning, a game of chess in the club in the afternoon and then rest. One is reminded of the aimless running of rats among the dead bones.

      Sex in real life: The second scene shifts to a tavern where two ladies talk about the sex matters. Lil's husband has come back from the army after four years. He wants an active sex life. The lady of the Rocks advises Lil to look young and pretty to retain the love of her husband, otherwise, there are many other girls who will give company to her husband. Lil is getting old and she cannot satisfy her husband. Moreover, her last abortion has ruined her health. She is afraid of repeated motherhood. She is confused and frustrated.


      Description of drawing room of the Lady (L. 77-110): The Lady of the Rocks (Belladonna) sat in a royal chair which looked a polished throne. The reflection of the chair could be seen on the marble floor. The looking glass was supported by pillars which had the designs of fruits and grapes carved on them. A golden image of Cupid hung from one of the pillars. Another small image of Cupid could be seen peeping out behind the wing of the golden Cupid. The flames of the seven candles burning in the chandelier were reflected in the mirror. The double reflection appeared on the shining table while the glitter of the jewels of the lady which stood in their satin boxes, added to their brilliance. The bottles of ivory and colored glass were opened and they gave out a strange fragrance of synthetic perfumes. The make-up of the lady consisted of creams, powders and liquids. All these gave out a dizzy fragrance which drowned the sense in odors. The fragrance was disturbed by the air which came fresh from the windows, and as it went up it fattened the long-lasting candle flames and turned their smoke towards the ceiling, thereby disturbing the patterns carved therein (ceiling).

      The logs of sea-wood along with copper pieces, burnt in the fire place were paneled by colored stone. The flames appeared green and orange and in the dim light thereof, was seen the carving of a swimming dolphin. A little above the antique metal was hung a picture of "The change of Philomela" and it looked as if a window opened upon a sylvan scene of thre fate of Philomela so rudely raped by the barbarous king. Philomela who was transformed into a nightingale filled the desert with a sweet music. Even till today she continues to cry and still the world listens to her, but her cry has been interpreted as the reaction of her rape to the dirty ears of the modern man. Many other carved figures and decorations dealing with the stores and nyuls or the past could be seen hanging on the walls of the drawing room, staring images, and carvings leaned out from the walls. The room appeared quite hushed and silent. Suddenly there was a sound of footsteps which indicated that some visitor was about to enter the drawing room. The lady sitting on that room got a little excited and with the light of the fire started looking for her brush in order to keep her hair in form. She brushed her hair, which are spread out in fiery points indicating her excitement.

      Sex in high society (L. 111-119): As the lover entered the drawing room the lady said to him: "My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, really bad, please stay with me and speak to me. Why do you never speak? Please speak. What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? I never know what you are thinking. Think. The lover replied: "I think we are all in a rat's alley where the dead man lost their bone." The lady asked: "What is that noise?" The man answered: "It is the wind under the door." The lady asked: "What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?" The man answered: "Nothing". The lady again asked: "Do you see nothing? Do you remember nothing ?" The man answered "I remember that those are pearls that were his eyes." (This is line from Shakespeare's The Tempest. The lady asked again: "Are you alive or not ? Is there nothing in your head ?" The man answered: "O:O:O:O:" This was a line from Shakespeare's play: "It is so beautiful and intelligent." The lady asked: "What shall I do?" she herself gave the answer: "I shall rush out as I am and walk into the street with my hair down as it is." She again asked: "What shall we do tomorrow? What shall we ever do?" She remembered the routine-hot water bath at ten o'clock and if it rains, a drive in a closed car to the club at four. There we shall play a game of chess, pressing open eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door." (This is a reference to Middleton's play entitled Women Beware Women).

      Married life of the lower classes (L. 139-172): This is the story of the married life of Lil and Albert. Their relations are not quite happy on account of sex perversion. When Lil's husband was to be released from the army, her lady friend met her in the pub and told her quite frankly that now. Albert was coming back from the army, she (Lil) should make herself a little smart and be attractive to him. Albert would certainly like to know what she did with the money which he gave her to get a new set of dentures. The lady told Lil that Albert did gave her money because she was present then, and remembered his words that she should have her teeth extracted and get a new set fitted in. He told her that he could not bear to look at her and that was quite true. Even the who talked to Lil could not hear looking at her and thinking of poor Albert, the man had been in the army for four years and now that he was free, he wanted a good time. The lady warned Lil if she did not give a good time (sex-indulgence) to him. There were other women who would be glad to be so. Lil said that if it was so, she knew whom to thank for ranking this trouble for pleasing her husband and gave her (the lady) a straight revealing look.

      The bar-maid at this time cries out that the pub is about to close and her voice could be heard in spite of conversation between the two ladies. The lady told Lil that if she did not like her advice, she could do as she pleased. Others could pick and choose if she (Lil) could not. she warned her that if Albert left her, she would have to blame herself because she has had her advice. She told (Lil) that she (Lil) ought to be ashamed for looking so old, though she was only thirty-one. Lil replied with a sad face that she could not help her looks because of the abortion pills that she took to get rid of pregnancy. She had already five children and she nearly escaped her death when the last child (George) was born. The chemist had assured her that the pills were safe but she knew to her cost that they had ruined her health. She could never be what she was before taking the pills. The lady told Lil that she (Lil) was a great fool. If Albert would not leave her alone, she had no other alternative but to live with him. Why did she get married if she did not want children. Marriage and children went together. The bar-maid again shouted that it was time for the pub to close down. That sunday Albert was at home. They (Lil and Albert) had a hot gammon and they invited the lady to dinner to eat the hot dish. The bar-maid again shouted that the pub was being closed immediately.

      We bade goodnight to each other and left (The last line: "Good night.." is taken from Ophelia's farewell' in Hamlet, which symbolically sums up the tragedy of the married life of Lil and Albert).


      L. 77-110 The chair she....he savagely still. This is a fascinating scene in the drawing room of a lady of fashion in a modern metropolis. This lady represent any fashionable woman Belladonna, or Belinda or Cleopatra or Dido. The poet describes the furniture and the fittings in a great detail, with almost Keatsean imagery and sensuousness. The lady sat on a chair, which looked like a shining throne standing on the polished marble stone. The huge mirror was fixed against the wall with wooden pillars which had ornamental designs carved on them. A golden figure of Cupid peeped out of the pillars and another figure of Cupid, stood behind it. The seven branched candle-holder held the lighted candles whose flames were reflected in the mirror. The reflection fell Upon the glazed table, while the beams of the jewels that she wore joined the reflection of the candle-lights.

      Eliot now deals with the cosmetics of the lady of fashion. Her synthetic perfumes lay in Satin boxes. These bottles of perfume were made either of ivory or of colored glass. The cosmetics were in powder or cream or liquid form. The total effect of these cosmetics, was that the human senses were flooded with fragrances of different kinds. As the fresh air blew from the window, it carried the different odors towards the ceiling and as they touched the candle flames, they increased the flames which in turn produced greater smoke which touched the paneled ceiling. This vapor disturbed the patterns carved on the valuable ceiling panels.

      The fireplace of the sitting room of the lady was framed with colored stone. Pieces of sea-wood mixed with copper coating burnt in the fireplace. The wood gave out green and orange colored flames. The dim light showed the carving of a dolphin over the fire flame above the mantel piece and there were paintings of different types hanging against the wall. These paintings provided beautiful scenes of nature like Satan entering the garden of Eden. There was a painting of Philomel who was the younger sister of Procne - the wife of King Tereus. She was raped by the king and her tongue was cut so that she might not be able to tell the story of the king's misdeed. However, Philomela wove her story on a cloth piece which she sent to her sister, the queen. The enraged queen killed the king's only son and served his meat to the king. Somehow the king came to know of his son's murder and wanted to punish the Queen, her sister Philomela and other ladies. The god intervened to prevent the tragedies and transformed Philomela into a nightingale, Procne, the Queen into a swallow and king Tereus into a hawk. The nightingale sang a beautiful song about her tragedy. The Elizabethan poets, however, reproduced the sound of nightingale as "Jug Jug" which is symbolic of the sexual act. The idea behind Philomela's painting is that her beautiful song has been degraded to the rhythm of sexual contact, to please the filthy ears of modern men. Her pathetic song is not a story of barbaric rape but a heart-rending tragedy. The decorative paintings hung on the wall, have no significance or vitality for the men or women of the modern world.

      There were many other paintings and carved figures of ancient myths, stories and scenes on the walls of the drawing room. They stared at the things lying in the sitting room and thereby added to the stillness of the room and the loneliness of the lady sitting therein. Occasionally the sounds of the foot-steps going upstairs disturbed the silence. The sounds reached the lady's ears. She started dressing her hair under the candle-light (This indicated the arrival of some visitor). As she brushed her hair, they stood straight on her ends as if they were full of excitement. But the hair became still after some time.

      A Game of Chess. The title is borrowed from Middleton's play Women Beware Women. A game of chess is played to distract the attention of an old woman, while her daughter-in-law is seduced by a lustful Duke. The implication is that violation of sexual discipline brings frustration and spiritual decay. The second implication of a game of chess is a situation of checkmate where the game enters a blind alley, meaning thereby that married life becomes dull and boring. The third implication of the title is a life of emotional starvation in the process of mechanical routine. The moral of the section is that the foundation of healthy society is a disciplined sexual relationship. When sex is free from restriction or control, it leads to perversion and creates a sense of frustration and failure in married life.

L. 77. The chair she sat in: This refers to the chair of Cleopatra mentioned in Shakespeare's play Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra of today is Belladonna. Lady of the Rocks mentioned by Eliot in first section. The entire furniture and decorations of the charming room are vividly described in the line that follow burnished: polished or shining.

L. 78. Glowed: Shone or reflected, glass: mirror

L. 79. Standards: Pillars, wrought: carved, fruited vines: the images of grapes.

L. 80. Cupidon: Image of cupid. peeped out: appeared.

L. 81. Another: The second image of Cupid, his wing: the wing of golden Cupid.

L. 82. Doubled the flames: Reflected the light of seven branched Candelabra: chandelier having seven branches for holding candles.

L. 83-84. Reflecting light...meet it: The mirror caught the light of the candles. This redoubled light fell on table and was brightened by the glitter of the ornaments of the lady placed on the table.

L. 85. Satin cases: Boxes covered with satin for keeping jewels, rich profusion: In great quantity.

L. 86. vials: Bottles made of ivory and colored glass containing perfumes.

L. 87. Unstoppered: opened, lured: concealed, synthetic: perfumes made of chemicals. This suggests that the perfumes were prepared artificially and not from natural flowers and herbs. The excess of fragrance of perfumes suggest a place of sexual enjoyment rather than a lady's dressing room.

L. 88. Unguent: creamy applications, powdered: make-up in powder form, troubled: annoyed through excess of fragrance.

L. 89. Drowned the sense: Saturated the room with excess of fragrance, stirred: the fragrance was disturbed by the air coming through the window.

L. 90-91. These ascended....candle-flames: The breeze carried the scent towards the ceiling where the candle was burning. The flames of candles were brightened by the scented breeze.

L. 92-93. Flung their smoke....coffered ceiling: The vapor of the perfumes was brightened by the light of candles and its movement modified the pattern which was to be found on the paneled ceiling. laquearia: it has a reference to Aeneid Where the paneled ceiling of a banquet hall of Queen Dido of Carthage is described.

L. 94. Huge sea wood....copper: This refers to the fireplace of the drawing room where logs of sea wood containing copper pieces were burnt in the fireplace.

L. 95. Burned green and orange: Green and orange colored flames produced by the burning of copper, framed by the colored, stone: the fireplace is enclosed by colored stone.

L. 96. Sad light: dim light, dolphin: sea fairy.

L.96. In which....dolphin swam: The flame of the fireplace revealed a carved image of a dolphin swimming in a faint light.

L. 97. Above the displaced: There was an old-fashioned mantel piece over which hung a painting.

L. 98. As though...sylvan scene: The painting presented a forest scene like the one which Satan saw as he entered the garden. This has a reference to Milton's garden of Eden.

L. 99-100. The change.....so rudely forced: The next painting in the room was of the transformation of Philomela into a nightingale. This has a reference to the story of Philomela who was the younger sister of Procne, wife of King Tereus. Philomela was raped by the King and her tongue was cut so that she may not be able to speak of the crime of the King. Philomela, however, wove her story on a cloth and sent it to her sister Procne. When the latter knew of her husband's misdeed, she killed her son and served his meat to the King. The King came to know of this and wanted to destroy Philomela. The god intervened and changed Philomela into nightingale and Procne into swallow and King Tereus into a horse. This story is narrated by Ovid in his book entitled Metamorphoses.

L. 100-101. Yet there...with envoiable voice: The nightingale through her story gave out her pathetic feelings to win the sympathy of all her listeners. The beautiful and pathetic song filled the desert with sweet melody.

L. 102-103. And still....dirty ears: What happened to Philomela as mentioned in her song, (Rape) is repeated today in the case of simple maidens. Philomela was transformed into a bird but modem women kept on suffering. Jug Jug: 'Jug Jug' is the traditional wording in the song of Philomela. It has reference to sexual contact. The song of nightingale is now misunderstood and does not convey any spiritual content. It does not tell the story of transformation through suffering of the wastelanders. The song of nightingale has only a reference to the sexual act.

L. 104-105. And other....staring forms: This refers to the scenes from the past which were carved upon the wall of the dressing room.

L. 106. Leaned out....room enclosed: These carved figures are meaningless stories of the past and have no significance for modern men. They are just hung on the wall. Some figures lean down and look in silence, thereby emphasizing the loneliness of the room of the lady.

L. 107. Footsteps shuffled on the stair: At this time the sound of footsteps of some visitor walking on the steps could be heard.

L. 108-110. Under the....savagely still: The lady gets excited wondering who the visitor could be. Under the bright light of the fire, burning in the fireplace, she started brushing her hair. Her hair looked fiery under the mental tension. She wanted to speak but could not do so on account of nervousness. (She is an example of a neurotic lady of the modern wasteland.)

      L. 111-138. 'My nerves are....upon the door': The lady talks to the who happens to be her lover. She tells him to stay on as her nerves are bad. The lover does not reply but looks blank. This is an comment on the deserts of modern life, namely futile tension and thinking about nothing. She ask the lover to speak to her she went to know what he is thinking. The lover, however, gives a significant reply. Men are like rats, stirring dead bones in alley. This indicates the monotony of the routined civilized life. The dead bones refer to men with dead souls. It emphasizes the futile monotony of tired nerves and spiritual blankness. As the wind blow, there is a noise; the lady asks what is the wind doing? The man looks blank. The lady questions again: "Do you see nothing? Do you remember nothing? The man answers mechanically. He quotes a line from The Tempest. "Those are pearls that were his eyes." The lady is unable to understand the man's words. She is irritated by his silence. She asks him: "Are you alive or not? Is there nothing in your head?" O that Shakespearean rag, it is no beautiful and clever. The lady asks the lovers: "What shall I do now?" This is a comment on empty; and aimless life of the rich affluent society woman. She is all bored and does not know what to do; time is hanging on her hands. She says: "I shall rush out as I am and walk through streets." Then she asks her lover: " What shall we do tomorrow?" Well, the routine is well-known— the hot water bath at ten in the morning and then the lunch and then at the club at 4 o'clock. There both shall play a game of chess. It furnishes the title of this piece. The lines from Middleton's play entitle Women beware Women are

And we shall play a game of chess,

Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.

      There is the seduction scene in Middleton's play where Bianca a young wife is tempered by a lustful duke. The duke's pimp keeps Bianca's mother-in-law busy in a game of chess. The scene of sexual triviality in the high society now comes to an end.

      The second scene deals with life at the lower level. Here is the story of Lil, who is conversing with another lady about her husband. The woman is nervous and afraid because she has lost her charm and yet wants to make her husband stay with her. Even in the lower strata of society; sex ranks supreme. The scene is laid in a tavern or what is generally called a 'pub'. Lil and her lady friend sitting in the pub talking about their problem. The bar-maid shouts: "Hurry up please, it is time". Lil talks about her broken marriage. Her husband has been demobbed after four years in army service. He wants to have a good time, he wants to be smart. The lady asks Lil whether she will be able to retain the love of her husband. She is looking old. Her husband had given her money to buy a set of dentures as she had lost her natural teeth. Her husband, Albert, wants to enjoy life. The lady asks Lil if she can give a good time to her husband; as she does not, he would go to another woman. Lil is suspicious of her lady friend because she might snatch away her husband. Lil is suspicious of her lady friend because she might snatch away her husband. Lil has a meaningful look at her friend. The lady tells Lil that if she does not like her advice, she can do as she pleases. There are other women who will pick up Albert. If Albert goes with them, she should not plead her ignorance. She has already been told about it. She must look attractive. The lady tells Lil that she should be ashamed of her figure. Lil looks quite old though she is only thirty-one. Lil answers that she cannot help her figure because her health has been ruined with the pills she took. She had a abortion because she already had five children. The birth-control pills have ruined her health. The lady tells Lil to keep her husband satisfied. She should retain her charm so that Albert sticks to her. Lil feels that motherhood kills beauty and birth control medicines ruin health. At the same time she must keep her man with herself.

     Last Sunday Albert had invited this lady to dinner at her house. They had a dish of bacon. The pub is about to close now and men and women bid goodbye to one another. The last line: " Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night" is a line taken from Ophelia's farewell in Hamlet. The lot of the modern poor woman is similar to that of Ophelia—one of unfulfilled love. The problem is: how to keep young and attractive and at the same time prevent reproduction. The basic idea is that a woman must hold her man and keep him from running after other women. Eliot feels that marriage is for regulation and discipline of sex instinct and not for indulging in sex-perversion. Both the women of high society and the woman of lower strata from nervousness and uncertainty and emotional imbalance. Obsession with sex is one of the main diseases of modern civilization.

L. 111-114. My nerves....thing Think: She tells he lover that she is rather depressed. She needs a little rest as well as company. She would like the lover to stay with her and speak to her for some time. The lover has nothing to speak about. She asks the lover again what is in his mind and what he is thinking about. (The conversation between the lady and the lover shows a mental vacuum. Both are the victims of the boredom and thoughtlessness of modern life.)

L. 115-116.1 think....their bones: The lover replies to his beloved that human beings are like rats in their holes. They keep running round and thus only disturbing the dead bones lying about. (This is a comment on the spiritual barrenness and the decay of the modern man. His life is an example of monotony, of routine and tired nerves.)

L. 117-120. What is that.....again nothing: The lady asks her lover about noise which she hears. The lover replies that it is the sound of the wind passing through the door. The lady again asks the lover about the noise and what the wind is doing. The lover replies that the noise is nothing and the wind is doing nothing. (The conversation has any significance. Both of them seem to be talking about trifles as if in a dream.)

L. 121-125. Do.....were his eyes: The lady asks her lover whether he knows anything, whether he sees anything, whether he remembers anything. The reply of the lover is that he remembers one line which is a quotation from Shakespeare's The Tempest. The line is: "Those are pearls, that were his eyes," This line is reproduced mechanically by the lover. It has no spiritual significance for him. It does not give an idea of the transformation of man through death to something higher and nobler.

L. 126. Are you.....your head: The lady asks the lover whether he is alive. She also inquires whether anything is in his head. (The lady is annoyed at the thoughtlessness and indifference of the lover. He seems to have no idea; he is more dead than alive. Though the lady tries to keep the conversation going, her lover is absolutely tired and bored and is unable to maintain the conversation.)

L. 127-130. But.....so intelligent: The lover who is mentally-exhausted feels that the line he has quoted from The Tempest is meaningless. It is a sort of rag for the waste-landers, though in its original context it appears so intelligent, significant and beautiful.

L. 131. What shall... I do: The empty and aimless life of a woman belonging to upper and affluent class, is mentioned in this line. The lady does not know how to kill her time. She has no idea of how to use her leisure. Life has become a boring routine. She does not know what to do with herself and with the time at her disposal.

L. 132-133.1 shall.....do to-morrow: The lady wants some excitement and some change in her routine. So she feels that she should break the conventions of society and rush out into the street, as she is now dressed. Her hair are untidy and disheveled. She does not know what she will do to-morrow. There is nothing to do in life except following the monotony of routine.

L. 134. What shall we ever do?: The lady asks her lover what they should do? (This question has probably no answer because life for the modern man has lost its significance and purpose.) Both the lover and lady have no idea of the meaning and goal of life.

L. 135-137. The hot.....game of chess: The routine of life is summed up in these lines. The first is the hot water bath at ten o'clock. Thereafter he will go to the club in a car if it rains. At the club they will play a game of chess.

L. 138. Pressing lidless.....the door: This line contains a reference pertaining to Middleton's play entitled Women Beware Women, where a game of chess is played with the mother-in-law in order to distract her attention and to enable a lustful Duke to seduce her daughter-in-law. The knock upon the door will be a signal that the love-affair should be brought to an end. (Here the game of chess is a symbol of fruitless activity and an occasion for some excitement to relieve the monotony of modem life.)

L. 139. When Lil's.....I said: This is a picture of a dead-lock in the married life of a poor woman. (The scene is laid in a pub and the conversation between two ladies is disturbed by a bar-maid. Lil’s husband has been released from army-service and has come home. Lil consults her lady friend about her broken marriage. The lady gives her advice to Lil.

L. 140.1 didn't.....her myself: The lady spoke out her mind to Lil and told her frankly what she felt about it.

L. 141. HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME: This is the cry of the barmaid telling the clients that the time is up and the bar has to be closed. So the visitors should finish their drinks and go home.

L. 142. Now Albert's.....bit smart: The lady's advice to Lil is that now her husband is coming back from the army; she should be more careful about her looks in order to retain her husband. She must dress and speak smartly.

L. 143-146. He'll want.....look at you: Lil has lost her teeth. She therefore, appears very old. Her husband has given her money for getting her dentures fixed, so that she may look young. The lady asks Lil as to what she has done with the money which Albert gave her for getting new teeth fixed. She says that she was present when the money was given to her by her husband. She asks Lil whether she has got all teeth out and got a new set fixed. She recalls the words of Albert about Lil: "I cannot bear to look at you."

L. 147-149. And no more.....I said: The lady tells Lil that she herself does not like Lil because she looks very old. So how could Albert love her? Moreover, he wants to have a good married life after four years in the army. If Lil cannot give him satisfaction, there are other ladies who will.

L. 150. Oh is there.....I said: Lil is surprised and she asks the lady whether other ladies are there to satisfy her husband. The lady replies in the affirmative.

L. 151. The I'll know.....straight look: Lil tells the lady that she knows that there are women like her who will seduce her husband. Lil looks at the lady reproachfully.

L. 152. Hurry up please it's time: This is the cry of the bar-maid asking the clients to hurry up as the bar is about to close.

L. 153. If you....I said: The Lady tells Lil that if she does not like to look pretty she can continue as she is.

L. 154. Other can...you can't: If you cannot retain your husband, there are others who can look after him and satisfy him.

L. 155. But if Albert....of telling: If her husband Albert enjoys his life with other women, the fault will be of Lil because she knows the reason thereof.

L. 156. You ought to....so antique: The lady tells Lil that she should she ashamed of her figure because she looks so old and lousy.

L. 157. (And her only thirty-one): Lil is only thirty-one years of age. But she looks much older than she is. Lil tells the lady in a sad tone that it is not her fault. (She explains the reason for her poor appearance and lack of youthfulness.)

L. 159. It's them....she said: Lil told the lady that she took some pills for abortion of her sixth child.

L. 160. (She's had five....George) Lil had already five children and she escaped death when the child George was born.

L. 161. The chemist.....the same: Lil tells the lady that the chemist who sold to her abortion pills, had assured her that the pills were quite safe but she knew that the pills had ruined her health. She could never regain her youthfulness and beauty.

L. 162. You are a proper fool, I said: The lady tells Lil that she is a real fool.

L. 163. Well, if Albert......I said: The lady tells Lil that if Albert does not leave her, she should be attractive for him. After all married life means sexual sufficiency.

L. 164. What you want children: The lady asks Lil why she married if she did not want children. Marriage and children go together.

L. 165. HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME: Once again the bar-maid shouts that it is time for the pub to close.

L. 166. Well, that.....a hot gammon: (The lady describes her visit to Albert's home) Well, last Sunday we were all together at Albert's place and had been invited to a dish of hot hog meat.

L. 167. And they of it hot: The lady said that she had been specially invited to dinner to eat this hot dish as it came from the fire.

L. 169-171. Goodnight Bill.....good night: The pub is to close down and the clients are bidding farewell to one another.

L. 172. Goodnight: This line is an adaptation from the 'Farewell of Ophelia' in Hamlet, thereby bringing a note of sadness and pathos into the story. It throws light on the tragedy of Lil who has lost her health and is yet unable to keep her husband. It reveals perversion of married life where child-bearing has to be controlled and at the same time the sensual husband is to be prevented from mixing with other women. Eliot seems to plead that marriage is meant for regulation and discipline of sex life and not for sex perversion.

      Conclusion: The idea behind the tavern scene is that marriage is meant for regulation and discipline of sex-instinct and not for excessive sex relationships. The perversion of sex has made modern life barren and desolate.

Previous Post Next Post