Discuss how T.S.Eliot depicts economic depression and consequent despair of the people in "Preludes."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Eliot's primary target in his descriptions of urban life is to avoid the Romanticized images that have been present for so long.  He seeks to create a reality that mirrors any large urban setting, and conveys the sense of hopelessness and despair that accompanies the alienation present in such setting.  There is little sun or redemption present.  Instead, Eliot presents a scenario of dingy and wet streets, clouds present.  The image of “the burnt-out ends of smoky days” helps to convey the basic idea of extinguished efforts and ruptured hope, something similar to an economic depression in its hollowness and sense of empty.  The depiction of city life with its smells and dwellers is one where there is a meandering loss of hope, unable to determine where it ends or begins.  This is similar to an economic depression, where the effects are far reaching and impossible to fully ascertain where beginning and end lie.  In this depiction, Eliot links the despair of economic depression with modern urban life.

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