The Waste Land Suggested Essays
by T.S. Eliot
Suggested Essay Questions
- 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?
The Waste Land Essays and Related Content
- The Waste Land: Major Themes
- The Waste Land: Essays
- The Waste Land: E-Text
- The Waste Land: Questions
- The Waste Land: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- T.S. Eliot: Biography
- The Waste Land Summary
- About The Waste Land
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Section I: "The Burial of the Dead"
- Summary and Analysis of Section II: "A Game of Chess"
- Summary and Analysis of Section III: "The Fire Sermon"
- Summary and Analysis of Section IV: “Death by Water” and “What the Thunder Said”
- "The Waste Land" and the Holy Grail
- Related Links on The Waste Land
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources