The Waste Land

The Unfortunate Inferiority of Women in the Work of T.S. Eliot

The work of T. S. Eliot frequently presents society as degenerate and infertile. The deterioration of the post-war world is represented through the oppression and suffering of women - a concept explored most notably in Eliot's 1922 work The Waste Land, but also in a number of his other poems. Eliot uses anonymous characters and allusion - a technique whereby the poet assumes the reader has previous knowledge of the subject matter - to suggest that there should indeed be a role for women in society beyond their domestic subservience to men. However, Eliot does not go about exploring this theme in such a way so as to appear indoctrinating, but instead simply presents the problems to his audience, thus allowing them to draw their own conclusions. As Harding states, 'Mr. Eliot doesn't invite you to step across the dividing line and join him in guaranteed rightness - he suggests at the most that you and he should both try not to live so badly.' In an age where women did indeed perform a predominantly functional role in society - for example, women were only enfranchised to vote in Britain in 1918 - it is important to consider Eliot's unconventional honesty when he so openly presents the power of male lust -...

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