The Waste Land is the mirror of post war generation.

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       Introduction : The Waste Land is a very important landmark in the 20th century. It reveals the disillusionment caused by the First World War. It also shows dissatisfaction with the so called scientific achievement and an industrial progress of Europe. It ushers new value of modern society which are the result of researches in psychology pioneered by Freud and Jung. All in all it is historical landmark in English poetry and a basic document on contemporary society.


The First World War did not solve the problem of Europe. On the other hand, it led to the establishment of communism in Russia in October 1917.
Post War generation


      Social document : As a social document, it throws on the living condition of people belonging to different sections of society in the modern world. There is representative of the aristocratic class in the German princess of the first section. There is another Roman representative of high society called the Lady of Situation whose drawing-room with all its beauty and glamour and synthetic perfumes is mentioned in the second section. She is a neurotic, waiting for lover at night. Both these ladies are sensual, over sensitive, subject to fits of nervous break down. Among the males of the upper strata of society, there are city-executives having fun with the girls at the picnic spots near the river Thames. There is the rich merchant, a representative of the commercial section of the society, full of sex and homo-sexuality. Mr. Eugnides is fond of perversity of sex. To the middle class society, belongs Madame Sososistris-the fortune-teller who entertains people with all kinds of tricks. Among the lower class are Lil whose husband, just returned from army wants to have a good time. Then there is a typist girl, wanting mechanical sex in a room. Finally, we have the song of three daughters of the river Thames, who lost their virtue at the hands of several people. Eliot suggests that the same sense of sex which dominated Queen Elizabeth and Earl of Leicester finds an expression among the poor classes, on the bank of the river. The main idea is that sex perversity prevails among all sections of society.


      Growing disillusionment : The First World War did not solve the problem of Europe. On the other hand, it led to the establishment of communism in Russia in October 1917. This led to dislocation among many European capitals. Thousands of refugees moved all over Europe in search of food and shelter. Eliot thinks that communism is no solution to the problems of Europe because of its violence and godlessness. The tragedy of Europe is poignantly depicted in the image of a woman playing on her as if it was a fiddle.


      Collapse of civilization : The civilization of cities is rootless. The people there have no tradition, because it is a mass of people from different sections and groups without any unifying culture or ideas. The city stands for the important city of Europe. The tower of Eden's Alexanderia, Vienna and London are falling. If the urban civilization has to be saved, it can be rescued only by sacrifices and sufferings. Eliot highlights the cultural, moral decay of cities, on account of the commercialisation of life where every thing is for sale. Even in the matter of love there is a question of profit and loss.


      Need for new values : The last section What the Thunder Said contains the substance of Eliot's thought. The re-birth of civilization is possible only through faith. He illustrates this point through the journey of Knight Perilous. There is another story of the two pilgrims and the hooded Christ to illustrate how faith can lead to success. Eliot draws on ancient Indian history when northern India suffered from drought and famine, The people prayed to Prajapati for help. The god answered their prayer and spoke three words through thunder. The three words are basic principles is Dattatreya (Datta-to) give oneself to a noble ideal. It means commitment to a good way of life. The second principle is Dayadhvam which means to sympathise. Selfishness has to be replaced by selfishness without universal brotherhood. Civilization cannot progress. The-third principle is Damyata which means discipline, It is an inner discipline for controlling one's thought and feeling. Eliot comes to the conclusion that a reform of the world should begin first with the individual. So, he decided to follow the three principles in his own life, with a hope it will lead to a better future.


      Conclusion : The Waste Land is not only a record of disillusionment of modern generation but also diagnosis the spiritual disease of the age. It refers to universal tragedy of man, his spiritual sterility and lack of faith and character. It is, an embodiment of tragedy of the heart of life that man in this world had to undergo pains and sufferings because of the original sins and because of the current values of material civilization.

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