Waste

Land By Eliot
In T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land there are several allusions. The most profound
allusion in the poem is relayed through the character of Tiresias. Tiresias is a
blind prophet who shows up in several different literary works. In The Waste
Land Tiresias is an allusion to Christ. This allusion is best illustrated in
section 3 of The Waste Land “The Fire Sermon”. The first description
involving Tiresias occurs in “The Fire Sermon”, “I Tiresias
though blind, throbbing between two lives, / Old man with wrinkled female
breasts I can see (ll 218-219).” The first impression the reader is given
of Tiresias is of a blind man who is old and wrinkled, but able to see things.

Tiresias sees many things throughout the poem. According to J.G. Keogh in, O
City, O City: Oedipus in The Waste Land, “Tiresias can imagine how things
look from what he hears: the clatter of breakfast things, the thudding of tins,
the sounds of the typist’s young admirer as he gropes his way downstairs in the
dark (pg.194).” Tiresias is able to use his other senses to see what is
going on around him. He becomes an observer of everything around him. Tiresias
is used in the poem as the observer of the typist and her young lover. He sees
all of the hurt going on between the characters. Tiresias states that, “And
I Tiresias have foresuffered all / Enacted on this same divan or bed
(ll.243-244).” Tiresias seems most Christ like at this moment in the poem.

According to Steven Helmling in The Grin of Tiresias: humor in the Waste Land,
“Tiresias participates in the suffering he sees, like Christ; and he has
foresuffered all like Christ (pg.148).” Tiresias sees and feels all that
the typist and her lover are going through. God is a common figure throughout
the poem The Waste Land. Tiresias is most God like in his emotions towards the
lovers. According to Sukhbir Singh in Eliot’s The Waste Land, “The
Christian doctrine of suffering and sacrifice for others is rooted in the
message that the savior delivered to his disciples before the crucifixion
(pg.47).” Tiresias shows his suffering for the typist and her lover when he
states that he has, “foresuffered all.” Tiresias states that, “I
who have sat by Thebes below the wall And walked among the lowest of the dead
Bestows one final patronizing kiss, And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit
(ll. 245-248).” Tiresias admits that he has seen the suffering of the
lovers and he feels great compassion for them but he must leave them to fend for
themselves. He only sees the future. He is not able to make them do the right
thing he is only able to show them their errors. Thus the reason that he
patronizingly kisses them because he can only show them their mistakes.

Throughout the poem The Waste Land there are several different allusions. The
most complex allusion is that of Christ shown through the character of Tiresias.

During the poem Tiresias exhibits many God like qualities. In conclusion
Tiresias is used in The Waste Land as a allusion to God by not being able to
visibly see the world around him but by emotionally looking at all the things
around him.


English Essays

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