T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" was published in 1922 and reflects the unease and disillusionment in society after the horrors of the First World War. The effect of this war in particular upon the individual is marked in the poem: the war occasioned enormous social and political change, but also made doing the simplest things difficult for those who had gone to war and then been forgotten by the government they served. In this poem, Eliot moves between classical allusions and narrow focus on everyday scenes, a technique which emphasizes the sense that the world is now somehow ill-fitting—or rather, that those who once belonged to it now fit in it poorly.
The poem begins with allusions to Russia and France, but settles on its main social focus, London:
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
But the deaths of others have certainly undone many in London. Eliot shows the fragmented conversations of men who, we understand, have returned from the...
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