Wasteland Themes

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World War I: The Graveyard for People and Values The Great War was a dreadful experience for many people that put Victorian values six feet under. The war experience exploded the generation’s faith in cultural and social institutions of the 19th century. I will demonstrate how World War I poems stretched beyond the trenches into the souls and bones of the Europeans and their civilizations. This experience will directly reflect T.S. Eliot’s postwar epic poem, “Wasteland” that showed the detrimental effects of World War I on the soldiers and families who were involved. Isaac Rosenberg’s “Break of Day in the Trenches” opens with “A queer sardonic rat,” that jumps into the soldier’s hand. The soldier finds the rat comical and quite ironic because it is just a creature that roams around looking for food and air.
“Now you have touched this English hand/ You will do the same to a German/ Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure/ To cross the sleeping green between” (10-13).
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However, in T.S. Eliot’s, “The Waste Land,” it is clear to see the dramatic changes the war brought about to the people of the 20th century. The war buried the 19th centuries faiths in cultural and social institutions. Eliot’s epic poem is comparable to “A heap of broken images.” The soldier has a serious case of PTSD. He goes through collapse and dryness of his spiritual self, which was a change from April. The death he had seen was immense; in fact, on Remembrance Day, it would take twenty-two hours for soldiers who died to walk by. Starting in line 60, the grammatical structure has ceased; grammatical structure was the only narrative structure that united the people. He sees his friend walking through London, along with the millions of other causalities right through the brokenness of the dead city. As the poem progresses, it becomes clear that the soldier’s illness is overcoming him—shell shock. The wife frantically inquires about what he is

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