School of Communication
Primary Subject Area
Literature, Modern; Literature, English
The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot, Modernism, British Modernism, Modernist Poetry
Literature in English, British Isles | Literature in English, North America | Modern Literature
Rhee, Semy, "Post-War Europe: The Waste Land as a Metaphor" (2012). Senior Honors Theses. Paper 272.
This thesis analyzes the mindset of twentieth-century Europe through the perspective of a modern individual that T. S. Eliot creates in his poem The Waste Land. Although The Waste Land is the greatest modernist poem, it is often criticized for its esoteric nature. A thorough examination of the poem is useful in understanding and appreciating Eliot’s masterful demonstration of the modernist philosophy. This study analyzes the poem in light of the definition of modernism and the poem’s metaphorical nature. It also aims to reconcile the two most confusing elements of the poem—its allusive content and fragmented structure—to the design and purpose of the work as a literary masterpiece with meaning. Although they may seem disjointed, all elements of the poem rather coherently communicate what modern society ultimately believes. The observable results of modernist beliefs are manifested in the modern individual’s view of relationships.