What are T. S. Eliot's views on the modern world in The Waste Land? 

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mimerajver | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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The Waste Land is one of the richest poetic works of the early 20th century. The obvious answer to how Eliot viewed the modern world is that, throughout the poem, he expresses his disappointment and pessimism at a world -specifically Europe- that had been expected to change for the better after the Great War, the one that "would put an end to all wars."

Lines such as

The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast,
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last 225
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays. (Part III, The Fire Sermon)


He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent’s clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses, 235
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defence; 240
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference. (Ibidem)

show the shallowness of relationships in a world in which even love has become a meaningless ritual. 

However, if you read the rest of the poem carefully, all the forms of love he depicts are either barren or a travesty: see, for example, the lines about Elizabeth and Leicester and the "nymphs'" loss of virginity on the Thames.

In Part V-What the Thunder Said, Eliot proposes a new spiritual quest, along the lines of the ancient Grail legend, that might restore man's spiritual values. The motif of water, that he used in a negative sense in previous sections, changes to positive in this part. The repetition of the Sanskrit word shantih (peace; bliss) as the last verse of the poem opens a window of hope as a contrast to the grim geographical, human, and metaphoric landscape depicted before.


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