The Waste Land

Relations between Men and Women in "The Waste Land"

In his poem “The Waste Land,” T.S. Eliot presents multiple relationships between men and women, both historical and of his own creation. The interactions that he describes allow the reader to infer how Eliot views relationships, sexuality, and gender. He presents relationships as dysfunctional while only focusing on their negative aspects. Through description of various couples, Eliot presents gender in a stereotypical fashion which allows the reader to gain insight into how Eliot views the sexes, especially women.

Throughout “the Waste Land,” Eliot alludes to many historical events, mythical traditions, and literary works. He references three famous relationships that serve as a background for the relationships that Eliot creates and describes in “The Waste Land.” The first allusion presented is to Wagner’s opera “Tristan und Isolde.” In this work, Isolde is unwillingly engaged to a King, a man she does not love. She instead falls in love with a knight, Tristan. The play ends tragically; both lovers die rather than give up their love ("Synopsis of Tristan und Isolde") Eliot also alludes to the relations between a King and his sister-in-law as described in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” (fn 1, p477) King Tereus, upon being...

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