In what ways does "Preludes" by T.S. Eliot critique society's lack of values and rootlessness?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In his poem "Preludes", T. S. Eliot describes the modern world as "sordid" and provides many concrete images that show the aesthetically unappealing aspects of modern urban life. The physical imagery includes that of the people shaped by the environment:

 The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street …

Here we see that Eliot's distaste for the urban wasteland has to do not only with its external aspects but also what he considers the degraded state of the urban lower middle class and poor, whose lives he sees as routine, deadening, and pointless. Although there are moments of pity in the poem, the attitude is almost a despairing one; it is not until his later religious poetry that we get a sense of redemption.


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