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... tic structure to mythical method. Eliot's perception of life as nothing more than a struggle is expressed in his literary works by his use of realistic themes such as depression, human isolation and through his religious imagery. For example, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a dramatic monologue about love. On the other hand, The Waste Land and Ash Wednesday is more mythical and explains deeper into religion and God.
Eliot created his writing style based on his own personal experiences; therefore his poems all show incredible skill. Eliot's writing technique differs from many other poets of his time such as William Butler Yeats whose mood was not expressed as often in his works. Eliot's writings aim to touch peoples lives and try to connect with them. His intentions were to demonstrate real life by bringing out true emotion. He did this by using real life scenarios that people could be more familiar with, rather than romance and adventure. He was part of the anti- romantic revolution; therefore his poems have a deeper meaning.
His poems are more of a combination of mythical, philosophical and Christian imagery in order to find a poetic way to poetically describe a modern dilemma. (Dishes 89) What stands out from the beginning in Eliot's poetry is his unique style and cunning. He uses his own form of language that appeals to the reader at the moment. He describes ideas and gives vivid images that seem almost realistic to the person reading it and he makes one feel as if part of the poem. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Portrait of a Lady are as striking today as they were in 1917.
The way he manipulates the phrases handles the pauses, and the counter pointing of informal and formal speech. These are all techniques that represent skill and have stayed with him steadily. A perfect example of this is the poem Four Quarters where Eliot uses mystical method. He relates himself to the poem and creates a wonderful sense of illusion.
On the contrary in the poem The Waste Land Eliot pulls away from human difficulty by showing his love for religion. However, it does not disregard his anger and rage against the corruption of society instead he states that politics are involved in religion. Furthermore, Eliot's poems meant to have an impact on the reader. They contain a deep meaning that can have a valid effect on someone. Especially in his later works were he was moving towards a religious sense of life. (Miller 186) He never confuses poetry for anything that might sound like poetry, or what casual readers might mistake for poetry. In other words, Eliot's verses were not created for simple minds because they do not contain simple meanings.
Eliot relates to his readers by creating themes that one may be able to pertain to from our own experiences and emotions. One may conclude from his readings that he was a pessimistic and dark man because his literary style often sets a melancholy and mystical mood. For instance, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock is considered to be one of his best works because of its high dramatic unit. Yet, in Ash Wednesday and The Waste Land Eliot uses a unique ritual method that he developed independently and in which he strives to build a gap between earthly objects and the word of God.
Another example is in the theme of failure of communication, of positive relationship between a man and a woman (Unger 90) and it is found in his early poems, Hysteria and La Figlia ate Page. Most of Eliot's works deal with the fact that men and women come from two different worlds; therefore, being unable to communicate openly. These are all events that happen in ones everyday life and by reading these poems one might be able to cope with these situation. Eliot also portrays the theme of human isolation. While he uses the theme of estrangement between man and woman it may also signify the larger theme of the individuals isolation, his estrangement from other people and the world.
Eliot speaks of man on a quest to become one with himself and find himself at peace. It is Eliot method which marks him inescapably as of this age. (March 25) He wants to communicate the predicament of modern man in the midst of lost meaning. The theme of isolation and alienation from the world and society is fore most seen in The Waste Land. This one of Eliot's most popular poems describing the disgust and depressing personalities of society. The Waste Land is intensely personal, and the basis of its technique and progression lies in an individualized conscience. The necessity to transcend ones self is a basic theme of the poem.
Further, social responsibility is at the core of the mythic and traditional elements combined in it. While isolation and alienation from the world is the theme of the poem The Waste Land; the same position, but speaking of God, is the theme in Ash Wednesday. On the other hand, Four Quarters is different from Eliot's other poems. It does not use mythic or ritual method; instead he uses repetition and symbolism.
Repetition is used to permit the emergence of a pattern. (Tate 24) Symbolism is used for the reader to have a better understanding of the poem. This makes the poem more interesting and the reader can relate to the writing. Eliot is very dramatic in some ways but he also knows his limitations; making it a unique form a drama. Even though Eliot is the most famous poet of his time, his writing style is often criticized. He gives vivid images that seem realistic and describes unusual ideas. He uses his own form of language that appeals to the reader at the moment.
One might say that it is really difficult to distinguish the poet and the critic. Eliot's drama is so intense that often people criticize it and call it exaggerated. Eliot often ridiculed the critics that made mockery of his writings. Its doubtful whether many people are capable of understanding his works now but it is known that people in this era feel great sympathy towards him Eliot is difficult to understand, not because he knows so much or the age he lived in was so complex, but because he was a special type of poet, a philosophical poet in an age of no belief. Burnt Norton shows how Eliot's intellectual poetry may confuse the reader. He uses things such as names of places one has never heard of, Greek words that he does not explain and verses filled with time events no one has ever experienced.
This may cause the reader to fell ignorant and not to be able to enjoy the poem until one discovers what each thing signifies. Ones difficulty to comprehend the poem may be due to his use of imagination. Eliot used lot of religious representation in many of his writings, however, that didnt omit his point of view towards the corruption of society. Instead, he always insisted that politics had a lot to do with religion. However, Eliot did look towards Christian hope.
Towards his later years, he early set himself to the deliberate cultivation of a religious idealism and tradition, and to the pureness as its most convenient institutionalization. Therefore, his writings made it clear that he had become the foremost Christian poet of his day and in his ordinary language, one of the leading Christian apologists. His later work dealt with Christian morality, Eliot's writing have a spiritual influence upon it readers. His philosophical style of writing is portrayed through most of his poems, as well. Eliot is above education, being closer to philosophy that to history. Moreover, the unifying element in Eliot is theology and it is not inaccurate to describe Eliot as a theologian gone astray.
In better terms, Eliot is well in tuned with his theological side, not only in being a talented writer but also in comprehending the deep meaning of ethics and religion. In conclusion, Eliot expresses his emotions and himself through his writings. His entire career as a writer is a history of his failures and greatest achievements. His mythical and dramatic form attracts the reader to his poems. His earlier works were full of depression and remorse and his later works were more of a religious reformation. His writing style matured as he matured with age and time, but each of them different in their own way.
Bibliography: Works Cited Bradbrook, M. C. Contemporary Literary Criticism Vol. CLC 2. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1974. 125 - 130 March, Richard.
T. S. Eliot Symposium. New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1968 Riley, Carolyn. Contemporary Literary Criticism Vol. CCL 1.
Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1973. 89 - 92 Tate, Allen. T. S. Eliot The Man and His Works.
New York, New York: Dell Publishing Company, Inc. , 1966 Schneider, Elizabeth. Contemporary Modern Criticism. Vol. CLC 3 Detroit, Michigan Gale Research Company 1975. 135 - 141
Free research essays on topics related to: gale research company, detroit michigan gale, j alfred prufrock, michigan gale research, contemporary literary criticism vol
Research essay sample on The Literary Style Of Ts Eliot
The Module B essay has a terrifying reputation. In the HSC the questions are notoriously specific, meaning that it is difficult to simply use a prepared essay. It is small wonder that many students find it the most overwhelming of the modules. Not only are its demands esoteric in comparison to the other modules, you also have to study prickly texts.
This three part series will guide you through the difficult art of studying for Module B: T.S. Eliot. It will conclude with a model Band 6 essay. Today, we are going to look at what a Module B essay requires, before moving on to some preliminary themes in Eliot’s poems.
In reality a module B essay’s requirements are not that much different to the other modules. And panicking and fretting over things only leads to muddled responses, or a failure to write at all. Heaped onto the textual analysis and consideration of context found in other modules, Mod B has the added considerations of CANONICAL STATUS, TEXTUAL INTEGRITY, and CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES. The question I am asked most frequently by students each year is “Pat, what’s TEXTUAL INTEGRITY?” NESA doesn’t explain it clearly at all, but understanding and discussing it is essential to getting a Band 6.
Read the next part of this study guide: HSC English Module B Study Guide: T.S. Eliot Part 2 [Free Textual Analysis]
Textual Integrity and Canonical Status
What you need to do to achieve a Band 6 mark is present a well-structured response that demonstrates how the TEXTUAL INTEGRITY of the selection of Eliot’s poetry establishes its CANONICAL STATUS. To do this, your essay must demonstrate how a selection of themes from the text, coupled with form, create a unified whole that has a lasting value or significance.
But what is TEXTUAL INTEGRITY?
NESA is vague on this. The syllabus definition is:
“The unity of a text; its coherent use of form and language to produce an integrated whole in terms of meaning and value.”
What does this actually mean? Well, this is a convoluted way of saying that the text has coherence: a unity of ideas and form. For example, if you pretended to be a poet struggling to show a dysfunctional and unhealthy society you might choose to use a lot of enjambment and slant rhyme to represent this dysfunction structurally.
Eliot actually does this, an example can be found in stanza two of Preludes(1911):
Eliot T.S, Preludes. (1911)
The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee-stands.
In this stanza, the persona is presenting the workers’ daily struggle. The workers wake hungover from too much booze the night before and they need coffee to struggle through the day. The persona perceives that the workers are trapped in a horrible and unnatural routine: they drink to forget their woes at night, and suffer the consequences the next morning. This is represented in the broken flow of the lines: all except the final line are enjambed. The enjambment breaks the continuity of the lines; they seem to flow on the page but are fragmented when spoken.
The rhyme is unnatural, too. ‘Consciousness’ seems to rhyme with ‘press’, but the rhyme is only partially there – it sounds funny and not quite right. This is called a slant, or half, rhyme. Taken together these are examples of the text’s TEXTUAL INTEGRITY. We can argue that these combine to “present an integrated whole in terms of meaning and value.”
You can also discuss TEXTUAL INTEGRITY in terms of the thematic cohesion of Eliot’s corpus. Eliot consistently critiques modernity, the corruption caused by liberalism, and the individual’s struggle against diffidence and loneliness. Or if that doesn’t interest you, you can consider his use of intertextuality and form to convey and reinforce meaning. These are present in Eliot’s interpolation of folk songs (such as in Prufrock and Hollow Men) and classical literature (in all of the poems) in his work or the mastery of different forms he demonstrates in his poems.
The other thing you need to discuss is the text’s CANONICAL STATUS.
A text can attain canonical status because of its use of form. Perhaps it is considered ground-breaking in its use of the sonnet form, or it is lauded as being the best example of a ballad. Some texts gain their canonical status because they do all of these things. You need to decide and discuss if Eliot’s poetry fits these descriptions. For a text to have lasting value, it has to be widely lauded and have appeal to audiences over a range of periods. A text’s appeal to a range of audiences can lie in its thematic relevance to audiences. You need to figure out if it is speaking to, or perhaps challenging, a society’s values over time.
Canonical texts engage with universal human concerns such as the human condition (the affliction of being human – traumatic, I know!) often these are presented through big existential question like “what is the meaning of life” or “is there a god.” Or these concerns are personal ones such as “why do I procrastinate,” “why is life a struggle” or “why am I an outsider.”
To decide a text’s CANONICAL STATUS you want ask yourself questions like:
- Is this theme relevant to a wide group of individuals?
- Is this poem conveying a universal human concern?
- Does this text engage with the human condition?
- Does this poem use form in interesting or unique ways?
- Does this text combine form and meaning? Is it using form to develop meaning?
T.S Eliot’s Themes
An important aspect of canonical status is a text’s use of themes. If these themes are universal, then the text has a universal relevance. This will contribute to the text’s place in the canon. So what themes are there in the set poems? Let’s have a look:
|RELATIONSHIPS||The characters in Eliot’s poetry struggle with their relationships with others. They fail to connect properly, or have failed relationships because of their competing expectations.|
|MODERNITY||Eliot, like other modernists, is critical of the modern world and its rapidly changing values.|
|ISOLATION||The modern world isolates individuals from society with its competing demands of labour and social expectation.Now let’s define these ideas so you can use them to structure your responses:|
|GENDER||Eliot wrestles with the changing gender roles in 20th century society. He is titillated by sexual freedom, but disgusted at the same time. His male characters struggle with their masculinity.|
|LITERARY TRADITION||Eliot is deeply concerned with literary tradition and its place in the modern world. His poems are packed with references to other literature.|
|TIME||Modernists were obsessed with time. Time is experienced subjectively; it seems to pass at different speeds at different times. Individuals feel they have all the time in the world only to discover that time has passed too quickly.|
|ENTROPY AND DECAY||Entropy is the idea that all things decay and break down. Modernists perceived the structures as the world and human relationships being affected by entropy, too.|
|PERSONAL STRUGGLE||Individuals in Eliot’s poems struggle with their own identity and place in society. The changes of the modern world have left their lives full of uncertainty.|
|CYCLES||The poet WB Yeats had developed a focus on the cyclical nature of history. Other modernists, such as Eliot, adopted this. Modernists perceived, and represented, history as being prone to the repetition of the same mistakes.|
|FAITH||Eliot struggled with faith. He converted to Anglican Catholicism at a late age. He then struggled with this belief and wrote about it at length. Meanwhile, the modern world was becoming increasingly secular.|
|MENTAL HEALTH||Modernism coincided with the development of psychoanalysis and psychiatry. The individual’s psychic struggle with existence in the modern world became even more fraught with the trauma of World War One.|
|TRADITION||Modernity brought changes to labour roles, habitation, gender, class, religion, and social structure. These were often resisted by conservatives who lamented the loss of the old ways.|
|DEATH||Death is universal. Everybody dies. Eliot wrote extensively about the effects of coming to terms with one’s mortality.|
|THE QUEST||Eliot’s poems often discuss quests. Traditionally the quest narrative was the search for a holy relic or special object, but in Eliot’s work this object could be understanding or faith.Once you understand your themes, you need to gather evidence that you can use to support your arguments about them. In Part 2, we will look at some examples for a couple of these ideas for you to use in essays.|
Read the next part of this study guide:HSC English Module B Study Guide: T.S. Eliot Part 2 [Free Textual Analysis]
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