The Waste Land

Ceremonies in ""
Ceremonies are prevalent throughout T.S. Eliot’s poem "The
Waste Land". Eliot relies on literary contrasts to illustrate the
specific values of meaningful, effectual rituals of primitive society
in contrast to the meaningless, broken, sham rituals of the modern
day. These contrasts serve to show how ceremonies can become broken
when they are missing vital components, or they are overloaded with
too many. Even the way language is used in the poem furthers the
point of ceremonies, both broken and not. In section V of The Waste
Land, Eliot writes,

"After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the ...

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used to describe the event is very rich and vivid:
red, sweaty, stony. These words evoke an event that is without the
cares of modern life- it is primal and hot. A couple of lines later
Eliot talks of "red sullen faces sneer and snarl/ From doors of
mudcracked houses" (ll. 344-345). These lines too seem to contain
language that has a primal quality to it.
From the primal roots of ceremony Eliot shows us the contrast
of broken ceremonies. Some of these ceremonies are broken because
they are lacking vital components. A major ceremony in The Waste Land
is that of sex. The ceremony of sex is broken, however, because it is
missing components of love and consent. An example of this appears in
section II, lines 99-100, "The change of Philomel, by the barbarous
king/ So rudely forced"; this is referring to the rape of Philomel by
King Tereus of Thrace. The forcing of sex on an unwilling partner
breaks the entire ceremony of sex.

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The Waste Land. (2004, September 4). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from
"The Waste Land.", 4 Sep. 2004. Web. 18 Mar. 2018. <>
"The Waste Land." September 4, 2004. Accessed March 18, 2018.
"The Waste Land." September 4, 2004. Accessed March 18, 2018.
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Added: 9/4/2004 01:40:08 PM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1245
Pages: 5

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