Lecture 4 - Eliot's Wasteland(2) Woolf's Lighthouse(1) 6 Oct 2013

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Oct. 4th, 2013Lecture 4: The Wasteland, part 2(T.S Eliot)and To the Lighthouse, part 1(Virginia Woolf)The Wasteland, part 2The significance of allusions-The overall effect of the allusions, which carry the expanse of the poem far beyondthe direct meanings of it, is more important than in-depth understanding of a fewselect allusions.-Allusions are what holds the “mess” of Wasteland together, much of those referencesare laments for the loss of old stories, cultures, and thus the loss of its ability to bringpeople together. In cities, mythologies and epics are buried under the loss ofindividuality, under the new stasis of people’s mindsets. These myths, or shades of thepast, survive in their weakened and somewhat shameful state.-Allusions are meant to open the poem up to a wider audience, but to most, theallusions close the poem’s accessibility due to lack of reader comprehension.-However, perhapswe don’t require understanding of all the allusions – if weunderstand some of the loneliness Eliot is attempting to express, perhaps that isenough, we have experienced and understood some of the allusion.-Arguably, the allusions serve to narrow the audience down to those who understandits pain, and therefore to those who actually need the poem.Analysis of significant linesV. What the Thunder Said-“Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit…But red sullen faces sneer and snarl” (line340-344): The barren imagery is again of the physical wasteland. The landscapebecomes even worse, nightmarish with the hooded figure and “bats with baby faces”(line 380), as the figure arrives at the empty chapel.oWe can infer that this figure may be the knight, destined to restore fertility tothe Fisher King’s lands, and to heal the King. This is why he must travelthrough such lonely and perilous lands. However, the figure could also beTiresias, on an eternal journey through past, present and future.oEliot is quoted to have said “all the men in the poem are one man”, and “allthe women in the poem are one woman”. Does that point us to Tiresias’figure? Are the knight and Tiresias one figure? Does it matter?-“Then spoke the thunder/ DA/Datta:what have we given?... DA/Dayadhvam:I haveheard the key… DA/Damyata:The boat responded…” (lines 400-420)oHere, Eliot draws from the Upanishad, the sacred text for Hinduism. Thesound “Da” is spoken by the thunder, and thus by the god controlling it. In therelevant Upanishad passage, god is said to be speaking to three groups ofpeople – Men, Demons, and Gods. However, all three groups interpret thisapparently meaningless syllable differently.oMen – the sound “Da” becomes “Datta”, which means to give, to fight backagainst human greed.oDemons – the sound “Da” becomes “Davadhvam”, which means that thedemons must show compassion and empathy for others.

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NickMount

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