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Eliot’s Poetry

by: T. S. Eliot

Suggested Essay Topics

How does Eliot comment on the act of writing poetry? How does his perspective change over the course of his career? Is he optimistic or pessimistic about the power of poetry to influence the modern world?

Describe the various speakers and characters in Eliot’s poems, particularly “Prufrock” and The Waste Land. Which of these poems, or which sections of these poems, would you call monologues? How does Eliot adapt the dramatic monologue form?

How does Eliot use the relationships between men and women to comment on society and culture? Why is “Prufrock” a “love song”?

What kinds of imagery does Eliot use? How do these sets of imagery change from “Prufrock” to Four Quartets?

Think about Eliot’s use of form and language. What is most “poetic” about his works? What linguistic devices does he use?

Describe Eliot’s range of cultural references. How do references to Eastern religions fit in with allusions to Christ and Dante? Why does Eliot include untranslated bits from non-English works?

What is the place of religion in Eliot’s work? How does this change over the course of his career?

What is the “Waste Land” Eliot describes? What other kinds of physical settings does Eliot use? How do they influence the messages of his poems?

Why is Eliot so fascinated with death imagery? What does the recurring imagery of drowning symbolize?

Describe the kind of person Eliot creates in “Prufrock.” How does Prufrock fulfill or rebut stereotypes of the modern intellectual?