The Waste Land

Inner and Outer Worlds; the Internal and External in James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ and the Poetry of T. S. Eliot College

In the novel Ulysses, a hallmark of modernist writing, James Joyce presents to the reader a particular relationship between inner and outer worlds, blurring the distinction between the internal consciousness’s of his characters and the externality of the world around them. The two become intrinsically connected and almost indistinguishable due to their mutual dependency on each other. The same could be said for T. S. Eliot’s poem, ‘The Waste Land’, in which the state of the inner world of human thought is a reaction to the chaos of the physical outer world, a contrast to his earlier poem, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, where the outer world is presented as irrelevant in comparison to the neuroses of its titular character.

In ‘Prufrock’, Eliot focusses on the mentality of the individual, paying particular attention to the nuanced processes of thought. Eliot portrays a character who is riddled with anxious and obsessive thoughts that lead to existential crises and self-doubt. Prufrock’s worries are not extraordinary, instead being rather mundane. Concerning his physical, outer self he obsesses over how his body image is perceived by his peers and how they will say “How his hair is growing thin!”[1] or “But how his legs...

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