Friday, February 8, 2013

"Death by Water"

I think the title of Section 4 of "The Waste Land", "Death by Water" is not very fitting for what the passage has to say. The passage talks of how Phlebas was killed in the ocean because he drowned. However, I believe this is kind of a contradiction to what Elliot is trying to say about the lack of water. Phlebas drowned in an ocean, which is a ton of water, however, the Fisher King cannot seem to find any water. It seems almost like an oxymoron due to the fact that talk of so much water shows how badly water is needed in the Waste Land. Then, in Section 5, "What the Thunder Said" there is talk of no water and only rock, which gives the image of a barren place where water does not exist, as opposed to the ocean in Section 4, where the abundance of water is almost as bad as the under-abundance of water in the Waste Land.


TSHAH said...

Ian, i think that Elliot is attempting to illustrate that post World War I, we live in a world that simply cannot be explained (as evident by the style of his writing which leaves the reader with may unanswered questions). As you said, the abundance of water in section 4 is illustrated as a bad thing, yet in section 5 the lack of water is also defined as a bad thing. This contradiction could be Elliot's way of explaining that the world has lost its "balance" as people have become overly attached to the material world and have lost touch with the connection that they should have with spirituality.

Laura N said...

Whoa Tejas, I agree with you. I believe the waste land also says something about fear of death in a handful of dust, in addition to water. I'm not positive about what the water and lack there of symbolize but I do think eliots making a statement about some sort of spiritual imbalanced society. And it is ironic, as Ian pointed about the fisher king and phlebas's situations. Perhaps since water sustains all life, an inundation of water/life produces a detrimental impact just as a drought/ mass death causes an damaging effects to society. I wonder what water and drought could symbolize.

Linz A said...

I think water is a symbol of baptism in a way. It's ironic that the title is "Death by Water" when water is often seen as a way of rebirth. So perhaps death by water is a good thing. But then you could say that death by water can also mean death by lack of water. In which case it describes the Wasteland perfectly.