Choose a single stanza of "The Waste Land" and analyze it. Consider meter, rhyme, ellipsis, imagery, allusion, and other poetic tropes.
Why is April "the cruellest month"?
Some critics have interpreted "The Waste Land" as a treatise on modern civilization, while others have argued that it is far more personal - an attempt on Eliot's part to grapple with his failing marriage. Trace the relationship between the personal and the universal in the poem, particularly in the opening section.
The narrator is constantly in flux in "The Waste Land." Outline the various roles and personas the narrator assumes, and consider the significance of each.
Why does Eliot refer to "Mylae" on line 70, instead of World War I? What does the substitution of an ancient war for a modern one mean? Consider the role of history in "The Waste Land," and Eliot's fluid conception of time.
Analyze the water imagery of "The Waste Land," from the summer rain in the beginning to the potentially redemptive shower at the end.
In "The Waste Land," death and life are the same. Discuss.
Is "The Fire Sermon" really a sermon? If so, what is Eliot preaching? If not, why is it called one?
"The Waste Land" is full of sounds, onomotopoiea: from "jug jug jug" to "drip drop" to "twit twit" to "co co rico." What is the significance of this technique for the poem as a whole? Analyze each of the moments in which such language appears.
Is "The Waste Land" hopeful or pessimistic?