How is redemption or the hope of redemtion shown in T.S. Eliot's 'Wasteland'? ANYTHING you can offer is appreciated.
I'm writing coursework for my A2 (In the UK) English Lit at the moment and I am writing about how redemption is shown in Eliot, Angels in America and The Road. I've pretty much exhausted the other two but am having real trouble with the Eliot. Any help/suggestions appreciated!!
Under such a terrible context, Eliot, in his poem, elucidates that to regenerate humanity, humankind need salvation. 'The Fire Sermon' was preached by the Buddha against the fires of lust and other passions that destroy people and prevent their regeneration, (see Norton Anthology, pg. 2375, footnote). The title of section 3 has been taken from the Buddhist philosophy. The purpose of Eliot’s hiring this specific phrase for his title is to show the way for salvation, not only to highlight the theme of immorality. The remedy is, according to both the Eastern & Western philosophy, to control lust & maintain discipline. Thus, recovery might be possible.
In the last stanza of the section 'What the Thunder Said’, we find, the Fisher King is seated upon the “arid” land and ponders over that he should sacrifice himself for the sake of his country. Then, probably, rain would come. This sense of sacrificing has a philosophical meaning. This implies that, if modern humans are ready to sacrifice and to restrain the selves as well, one can hope to regain a beautiful world. Redemption is very necessary to save the world.
Finally, it is obvious that in order to save the modern world, recuperation is essential, and Eliot has shown a light of hope for that. For this reason, he has combined both the eastern and western philosophy; and it has been demonstrated that, through the revival of morality, discipline and benevolence, one can hope for something really positive
Thomas Stearns Eliot's The Waste Land which is, according to F. R. Leavis, "great and positive achievement and one of the first importances for English poetry", is the best portrait of the intensity of the problems of modern world.
Modern people's problems especially after the World War have become extremely intricate. As the natural world has become barren outwardly because of massive death & destruction, the internal state of humans has become complex as well as perverted. They are going through a life-in-death situation, always in fear of death like "a handful of dust" ('Burial of the Dead'). Moral values have lost dignity. Perverted sex has become a part & parcel in their daily lives. In fact, innocence is considered as perversion. Like Prufrock, every modern human is hopeless. In this waste land, the modern men are like "heap of broken images" ('Burial of the Dead'), where "the dead tree gives no shelter, cricket no relief" ('Burial of the Dead'). Humans have lost true feeling for others, and that's why, in sex, love does prevail no more. The typist girl, after making love like a machine, feels "glad" when the job is "over" ('The Fire Sermon'). Women have to remain cautious always to prevent their partners from going away to other women, they are used mere as a tool to produce children; the overt taking of contraceptives destroy their health, yet, they can't bear giving birth anymore, so, they need pills. But, then, their husbands do not tolerate having such ugly & unproductive wives. Such is the condition of a conjugal life in the modern age. Besides, homosexuality has become a terrible threat to moral values. In "the Fire sermon", we see the Smyrna merchant to go through such relationship. Faith in God is overshadowed by the power of money & personal enjoyment. Men, busy for their own business purposes, are crossing the London Bridge at 9 am which is the time of Christ's crucifixion, meaning that, they are forgetting religious dogmas and emphasizing more on their worldly jobs. In fact, the implicit theme in section 3 also is connected with the above notion. In sex, only lust dominates, a little love prevails there now. The scene, later, shifts to the statements of the daughters of Thames, who poignantly describes the assaults perpetrated on them. Then, the speaker utters that, London has become like Carthage burning in the fire of lust. Carthage, by St. Augustine, was called cauldron of sensuality & he prayed to God for His Grace. As the title suggests, 'The Fire Sermon' refers to universal flame of sex which is becoming uncontrolled & burning the entire world gradually.
I think this poem is more overwhemed by the notion of disillusionment and infertility though a reference of hope of redemption could be the allusion to the legend of the Fisher King from 'The Golden Bough' by Sir James Frazer. Eliot had integrated this legend to imply that the land could be regenerated by the healing of the Fisher King's sexual organs for they had a connection. However, I'm afraid this is the the extent of any element of redemption because then Eliot fabricates various fragments of life to detail how their is no restoration for the Fisher King therefore the land could never be healed. Thus, it is a waste land. A hopeless place, devoid of true emotions and full of confusion and disillusionment. I cannot think of any other reference to redemption because in essence it's not meant to be. Hope I helped in some way.