Compare and Contrast the Ways in Which the Theme of Isolation Is Presented and Explored by Sebastian Faulks and T.S Eliot in ‘Engleby’ and ‘Selected Poems’.

2419 Words Dec 5th, 2012 10 Pages
Compare and contrast the ways in which the theme of isolation is presented and explored by Sebastian Faulks and T.S Eliot in ‘Engleby’ and ‘Selected Poems’.
Throughout both ‘Engleby’ and ‘Selected Poems’ there is a prevailing sense of ‘apprehension of the tenuousness of human existence’ which is evident in the protagonists’ confining inability to communicate with the world around them, as seen in Prufrock’s agonised call, ‘so how should I presume?’. ‘The Wasteland’ was written by Eliot to ‘address the fragmentation and alienation characteristic of [contemporary] culture’, questioning mankind’s ability to move forward into cohesiveness despite the ‘more pronounced sense of disillusionment and cynicism’ which came about as a ‘direct
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Faulks uses Engleby to highlight the tenuousness of death: ‘I never for a moment considered killing myself, because it wouldn’t have achieved anything… within a few days it would be forgotten’, some critics suggest Faulks ‘idealises the need to have an impact on society for life to be worth living’, whilst others reflect that ‘despite his lack of desire for death Faulks continually reminds the reader of the insignificance of each individual in the ‘grand scheme of things’’.
Throughout the novel, Engleby is shown to be dissatisfied with society and rather than participating feels ‘numb’ to the extent he is called ‘Prufrock’ by his classmates. Eliot describes the unattached nature as ‘like a patient etherised upon a table’, signifying the complete lack of control over the surrounding situations experienced by either protagonist. Engleby’s detachment is sensed as he views his own lucrative job interviewing ‘Margaret Thatcher’, ‘Jeffery Archer’ and ‘Ken Livingstone’ with a casual disinterest, ironically a good journalist because of his desire to understand humanity such as when he asks Thatcher ‘What’s your favourite book?’ Perhaps his perceived distance to his job is due to his removed sense of self: ‘our sense of self is merely a by-product of our nerve synapses’, following psychological and scientific advancements in contemporary times.
In contrast to the ‘unattached nature’ of Engleby’s character, he does try to fit in to

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