Friday, February 8, 2013

Elliot's use of different religions and beliefs in his Waste Land

While reading the poem, I thought back to the handout that we read a few days ago by Jesse Weston, "From Ritual to Romance."  She says in the handout that "to determine the origin of the Grail, not to discuss the provenance and interrelation of the different versions" is what is important.  I think that we also see this approach through Elliot in his Waste Land.  For example, we see many Christian influences in his poem as well as mentioning of Buddha's Fire Sermon and What the Thunder Said.  Fire is often mentioned in the poem whether it have a relation to Christianity or a rejection of desire through Buddha.  No matter what religion is mentioned, it is important to remember that Elliot's goal was not for all the religions to agree with each other, but to serve his purpose of explaining his poem, The Waste Land.


Tyler Dean said...

I agree with what you have to say. There are references to Christianity, Buddhism, pagan gods, and many other figures from various religions. Eliot uses all of these references in a way that blends them together to unite them in a common goal, to explain The Waste Land. He doesn't pit one belief system against the other or one interpretation against the other to see which one makes more sense. He takes them as they are and uses them in their own way to make his point and add meaning to the poem. Jesse Weston's philosophy on the grail story is exactly the same, as you have said, so their approach to their writing is very similar.

TSHAH said...

Austin, I completely agree with your point, which can be supported when we look back to the multi vocal aspect of "The Waste Land". The multiple voices offer a disjointed, non linear way of expressing thoughts, which almost serves to confuse the reader. I think that Elliot uses this various voices to illustrate that the modern world that we live in can not simply be explained by a single way of thought or philosophy, but instead the disorder presented can only be solved by examining a variety of thoughts and combining certain aspect of them to illustrate a point.

Laura N said...

Perhaps the purpose of including all sorts of religious texts is because Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and other religons teach fundementally the same things. Compassion, understanding, and avoidance of superficial/ extraneous pleasures. It's kinda how magic was the archetypal system of belief for all people, according to frazer, before religion and weaved into religion. I think that the interrelation of the sacred/ religious texts is crucial to understanding Elliott's meaning: that systems of belief and archetypal lessons and figures are part of the human psyche.