What are the differences and the similarities between the poems Murder in the Cathedral and The Waste Land?

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janeyb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Murder in the Cathedral and Waste Land have some similarities, and many diffierences. It would be impossible to go through all of them. But one major similarity, which was prominent in much of T.S. Eliot's work, is his use of previously existing myths/stories to base his poems around, yet still making sure they were modern and applicable. Murder in the Cathedral is based on the 1163 quarrel between King Henry II and Thomas Becket, ending in the murder of Thomas Becket. Eliot uses this and infuses themes that were relevant at the time. He does the same with the Waste Land. The Waste Land is based on several myths and historical acts, most notably of course, the Holy Grail. Christianity, obviously, plays big roles in both Murder in the Cathedral, and the Waste Land.

One major difference, clearly is the structures of the two poems. Murder in the Cathedral is written in Verse Drama, a form that hadn't been used for hundreds of years. The Waste Land, conversly, is written with a modernistic twist, including foreign languages, disregarding any traditional approach to poetry. THe themes of the two poems are different as well. THe Waste Land speaks of disillusionment, where Murder in the Cathedral speaks of obedience.

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Murder in the Cathedral

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