Contemporary Life Imagery in Eliot's - The Waste Land

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      The Waste Land achieves its effect mainly through images which depict the sordidness, ugly soulless nature of contemporary existence. The lack of spiritual feeling is central to the modern waste land - which is conveyed through the reflection of the mythical waste land devoid of water, the source of life. The images of 'stony rubbish' 'desolate and empty sea', the 'dull canal,' 'rattle of bones,' 'a heap of broken images', 'the buried corpse not being reborn,' 'the inviolable voice' of the nightingale sounding 'Jug Jug' to the modern ear, the rat creeping on its slimy belly - all these images reflect the decay, sterility and futility of the modern world.

Woven into the texture of the poem are echoes of the past which serves emphasise the aridity of contemporary existence. Thus we have Madame Sosotris, the modern vulgarized counter-part of the ancient Egyptian diviners, telling fortune with Tarot cards without realizing their true significance. The loveless mechanical sexual relationships of the modern man and woman are imaged vividly in the bed room scene of the Lady of Situations, with her synthetic perfumes, the talk of her lover which contains nothing but images of futility and death, the seduction of the typist byt he clerk, the scene in a London pub echoing the insensitivity of the modern man to marriage, abortion and unfaithfullness. The 'good night' bring to mind Ophelia's farewell, with its associated images of frustrated love. The violation of the Thames daughters and the pictures of modern thames signify the pollution caused by loveless sex on summer nights. Seductions are only too common in modern life, so much so that even the seduced seems to think it quite a normal occurrence. The whole sense of sense of spiritual aridity is well imaged in the picture of the crowd flowing over London Bridge, a picture of 'death in life' and later on in the picture of disintegration and decay of Eastern Europe.
Contemporary Life in The Wasteland

      Woven into the texture of the poem are echoes of the past which serves emphasise the aridity of contemporary existence. Thus we have Madame Sosotris, the modern vulgarized counter-part of the ancient Egyptian diviners, telling fortune with Tarot cards without realizing their true significance. The loveless mechanical sexual relationships of the modern man and woman are imaged vividly in the bed room scene of the Lady of Situations, with her synthetic perfumes, the talk of her lover which contains nothing but images of futility and death, the seduction of the typist byt he clerk, the scene in a London pub echoing the insensitivity of the modern man to marriage, abortion and unfaithfullness. The 'good night' bring to mind Ophelia's farewell, with its associated images of frustrated love. The violation of the Thames daughters and the pictures of modern thames signify the pollution caused by loveless sex on summer nights. Seductions are only too common in modern life, so much so that even the seduced seems to think it quite a normal occurrence. The whole sense of sense of spiritual aridity is well imaged in the picture of the crowd flowing over London Bridge, a picture of 'death in life' and later on in the picture of disintegration and decay of Eastern Europe.

      The picture is not, however, totally unredeemed. There are some images of cheer too. The flash of those are pearls that were his eyes or the fishermen relaxing to the music of a mandoline, or the pure voices of children singing of the Grail ritual - these give a colour of hope to an otherwise sordid picture.

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