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Answers And Questions: T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land" (Essay Sample)


Parargaph 1
The Waste Land" is a few pages long, but it is highly confusing. Let's embrace that!
Find at least 2 lines/short passages that are confusing. What makes them confusing? What different interpretations could one reasonably have about the lines/passages? Why would Eliot want to make us feel confused about the subject of the lines/passages?
NOTE: I don't buy the idea that Eliot is "leaving it open for the reader to decide." If that is your goal, you listen, not write. If you bother to write something, it is because you have something you want to communicate to your readers. Why would Eliot want to communicate a sense of confusion?
A lot of websites try to explain the poem (though some do a better job of this than others). They won't help you here, because they attempt to give answers and your goal here is to raise questions.
Paragraph 2
War-Then and Now
T.S. Eliot wrote this poem in the aftermath of World War I. For him, it reflected the experience of the world after all the changes that led to and resulted from World War I.
First, explain how Eliot viewed the world. What was life like after World War I? Use at least 2 quotes from the poem to explain your answer.
Then, compare life after World War I to the life that we are living in the aftermath of the Gulf and Afghanistan Wars. How have those wars impacted are culture? Do we share similar problems with Eliot? If so, what are they? If not, what are the differences?


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Part 1
Published in 1922, The Waste Land is a 434-line long poem by T. S. Eliot. It is called one of the most decent and modest works in history. The two most confusing lines of this poem are “I will show you fear in a handful of dust,” and “April is the cruelest month.” Combined with vignettes of contemporary British society, The Waste Land follows the Fisher King and the legend of the Holy Grail. The poet has employed numerous cultural and literary allusions of the Western canon along with the Hindu Upanishads and Buddhism in this poem. However, I am confused why he says that he will show fear in the form of dust and why he thinks that Ap

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