discuss the poem prelude, as it discusses the climate of despair, uncertainty, dissolution, waste, and fear in the 20th centurydiscuss in full and with close reference despair, uncertainty,...

discuss the poem prelude, as it discusses the climate of despair, uncertainty, dissolution, waste, and fear in the 20th century

discuss in full and with close reference despair, uncertainty, dissolution, waste, and fear which are the hallmark of the social and political condition of the 20th century

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jayanthy | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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"Preludes" by T.S. Eliot is about an active modern city where there are no real people yet we get a feeling of bei9ng in the midst of an urban life that is caught in its own drab and somewhat lonely monotony. THe poem opens with a brief description of the end of working day. it is six 0'clock in the evening when 'winter settles' down to the usual smell of 'steaks' cooking in the passageways. Winter is usually associated with lack of growth and the absence of life as such. these lines suggest not just a winter evening settling down but also suggest that the condition of the city is like winter- drab and lifeless. It also clearly brings out the squalor and despair of such a society with 'grimy scraps' of dead leaves flying about one's feet along with pieces of newspapers blown out of the 'vacant lots', releasing themselves from the rubbish dump, byu the 'gusty showers'. The smell of steaks may suggest foood being cooked but it also gives an impression of a society that is drab and lacking in vigour. Life here is like the 'burnt out ends' of smoking days symbolic of loss of energy. Rain, that is usually life giving is seen here beating down on 'broken blinds' and 'chimney pots'- man-made objects- without any purpose. This part builds a picture of societal decadence where human and humane connections are lacking- even the 'cab-horse' is lonely and expresses it by steaming and stamping.

A glimpse of hope comes with coming of morning but the hope is soon gone as we learn of the 'faint stale smells of beer'. The lines clearly suggest a morning of drunken hangover where the muddled mind seeks to drag its feet on the still dust covered 'trampled street' towards the 'coffee stands'. Life as the lines convey is a 'masquarade' that repeats day after day suggesting the routine life of every city dweller, man or woman, going through the same meaningless activities. These are pointers towards the decay setting, in society. There is pretence in everything man does.

After naking a xcomment on society in general the poet now addresses some unknown 'you'. The line towards the end of this stanza'you curled the papers from your hair', makes it clear that the person mentioned is a woman sitting up in the bed. She is given no name but her activities as the day begins to break, are clearly painted,The sordid dreams that have been troubling her all noigjt allow us to peep into her mind. The world awakens as the lady does to the sight of light trying to creep 'up' through the shutters and the sound of sparrows chirping in the 'gutters' whcih make her aware of the life going on outside. Sitting along the bed's edge she removes her paper hair curlers, clasps her yellow feet or just rubs her dirty palms of both hands. The picture is rather demeaning and critical of society. We see the picture of a single woman's isolated life in the midst of a crowd.

In the last few lines the poet comes directly into the picture and speaks out his thoughts. He is touched by the squalid picture and hopes that some 'infinitely gentle' toiuch - may be oif God- can save them. this encouraging thought is very short-lived because he reverts to the hopelessness of the mundane society and shows no concern for it. He copncludes by describing the final picture he has in his mind- of life going on in the same pattern as it did in ancient time- like old women gethering fuel from the 'vacant lots' - a life of decadence with no hope. Thus the poem paints a picture of desolation, hopelessness, filth .

 

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