Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Silly Pericles Lewis

While I thoroughly enjoyed most parts of Lewis's essay on The Waste Land, there was one part of his essay that bothered me: the role of the speaker versus the role of voices. If there are multiple voices, can there be a single speaker? And if there is a single speaker, wouldn't that speaker have to be a man or woman, thereby breaking the speaker's neutrality on the topic of sex? The answer is yes, unless the person is Tiresias. I find that multiple voices necessarily means that there are multiple speakers, which is mentioned, but not discussed sufficiently on page eight. But on the bottom of page four Pericles specifically refers to the speaker as a male "[...] Eliot's speaker seems to align himself [...]". Well, if the speaker is a male, then Eliot's poem is a sexist, and possibly misogynistic piece of work. I fail to fully believe that Eliot's piece is either. The typist in The Wasteland is an independent, albeit mechanic, woman. What a progression from the 18th century depictions of women as beautiful objects to be written about for their superficial beauty. Eliot breaks away from the 19th century depiction of women in the workplace or at home tending for others by depicting a single, hardworking woman at home-an under-represented population in literature. Eliot is writing about a hardworking woman just as he would about a hardworking man. The typist is making her own living, eating "tuna from a can", airing her dirty laundry for whoever visits to see because she simply doesn't have enough time to do everything. We see the same pattern in the lady who is having an abortion. While she is currently half dependent on her husband, she wants to become independent from her husband and seems to revel in the idea of breaking free from the bonds of marriage.  So Pericles Lewis, I challenge that the Wasteland's speaker must be impartial to the sexes, but involved in their "chess game". The speaker of Eliot's Wasteland, in my mind, must be Tiresias who is sort of a hermaphrodite.

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