The Waste Land
Invitation, Violation, and Automation: The Deterioration of Desire in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land
In The Waste Land, Eliot utilizes women as a window to show the dissolution and distortion of love and desire. Eliot creates a progression from invitation, to violation, to automation through the use of three distinct female characters: the hyacinth girl, Philomela, and the young typist. These women give the reader aan understanding as to how the waste land came into existence. As the reader observes the shifting landscape, the women in the landscape gradually transform from youthful, pure girls into sterile, mechanical beings. The erosion of intimacy is documented in these three crucial portions, showing a pre-corruption world, a tragic intermediary world, and the final product: the waste land. In these scenarios, Eliot’s women exhibit the weakness and suffering that is a necessary part of the human condition. However, the transformations from pure love to a pale imitation of love show them to be detrimental to the landscape of desire.
The foreshadowing of love’s dissolution begins with an invitation for the consummation of love in the hyacinth garden. This is portrayed through a glowing remembrance of purity associated with fertility and fulfillment:
‘You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth...
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