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Nihilism in T.S. Eliot’s 'The Wasteland'

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 3249 words Published: 28th Sep 2017

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Chapter 1

Introduction

Nihilism is a very popular concept in English Literature and many authors have taken Nihilism as a theme in many of their works. The word Nihilism has long history. The word Nihilism is the resultant of the Latin phrase ‘Nihil’, which means anything does not exist. This term grew to be preferred with the newsletter of Ivan Turgenev’s novel Fathers and sons (1862) the place he used nihilism to explain the basic and rudimentary scientism supported by way of this character Bazarov who sermonizes a statement of belief of total negation.

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There are a couple of interpretations of the phrase Nihilism, as many critics have stated about Nietzsche that he believed within the literal dying of god. Nietzsche in lots of his works expresses a terror that decline of religion, the upward thrust of atheism, and the nonappearance of a better moral authority would thrust the world into chaos. The western world for a long time was depended on the rule of god for steering and direction and the way in which it gave order to society and which means to way of life or existence . Without this, Nietzsche says that society will move into an age of nihilism.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) is one of the most popular name to be associated with the concept of Nihilism, as he has referred and thereby included this concept in many of his works. He was a German thinker and philosopher of the late 19th century who defied and challenged the fundamentals of Christianity and conventional and traditional morality.

Nihilism in step with Nietzsche is first of all the situation where the world appears to be without value, morals, the world after the loss of life of god. There is not any get away from the fact and whilst there is not any approach to reconcile oneself to it, since all of the method have utterly failed. This can be a predicament, an untenable trouble, a state of powerlessness that we cannot probably suffer. For the world seems to be without value precisely on account that the values we invested on this world are failing: they now not participate in their ordering or organizing perform. Nietzsche is probably associated with nihilism that put his factor ahead via saying that its corrosive and mordant results would eventually smash all moral, religious and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the finest trouble in human historical past

Nihilism is a term which describes the lack of value and meaning in individual’s life. When Nietzsche mentioned that god is lifeless, he meant that Christianity has somewhere been lost as a guiding force in our lifes and there is nothing to replace it. Nietzsche’s philosophy arrives from the rejection, from outrage on the world, from the simple that world reasons. It is only once we learn to care for this pain, when we observe its vigor, that we will be able to appreciate the world as it is. This needs that we confront nihilism, now not most effective nihilistic attitudes or role but most of all the nihilism of what occurs, the nihilism of our lives. Nietzsche is famous for proclaiming death of god. Through talking concerning the demise of god, Nietzsche is maintaining come what may that god existed for a time and that he died, ceased to exist. Nietzsche is just not pronouncing that god literally existed and he actually died. What he means is right here is that the suggestion of god performed a principal and a unifying function in western philosophical concept as good as everyday lifestyles, and that this proposal has ceased to satisfy its operate. The topics of nihilism and faith, nihilism and morality, and overcoming of nihilism. This thematic focal point reflects three primary features of view of which nihilism is massive for Nietzsche’s idea. The dying of god represents a predominant precondition for the uncompromising stance regarding the diagnosis of nihilism.

After Nietzsche, the influence of nihilism has its clearest and most sustained effect within the huge area of morality; finally the doctrines of eternal return and the desire to power conceived as stratagems for the overcoming of nihilism. In all of the three sections, religion, morality and the overcoming of nihilism – a growing universalization of the predicament of nihilism makes manifest. Nietzsche, at the end of the 19th century mentioned that the approaching century will be the story of nihilism-the expertise of the dying of god and the simultaneous retention of the ancient expectations in regards to the which means, rationale and worth. For the duration of the transitional period of nihilism, humans will think that there is not anything rationale, meaning or values. In short, the world identity nothing-that is the expertise of nihilism-the interpretation of the new world order in phrases of the categories correct to the ancient, now defunct worldview. Nihilism is therefore a transitional state that outcome from having one foot in the historic world and the opposite in the new of expectations proper to the Christian world view.

The points that Nietzsche had put forward regarding Nihilism were critiqued by several religious challengers, and existentialist. One of the popular critics called Albert Camus, believe that the human beings generally logs and desires for higher order absurd. He also said that the death of god was insignificant and unimportant and that the entire mankind, do not need any higher authority or power and danger of divine wrath to live a contented, happy life full of morals. Nietzsche talked about the end of Christian morality in the world. Nietzsche in God is Dead stated that he believed that here is no longer a real essence or substance to conventional and traditional social, political and religious values. He witnessed that old values and old ethics, probity and morals, now, don’t have the same power that they once had. At this stage, he announced the death of god, stating that the traditional or time-honoured resource and basis of transcendental value, God, no longer did not hold any importance in modern culture and was efficiently dead to us. Generally, Nihilists believe in the fact that without any apposite and apt source of complete , universal, and inspirational values, then there cannot be any real values at all.

Chapter II

Unveiling Hidden Aspects of Nihilism in T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland

T.S. Eliot (1888-) was born and brought up in St. Louis, Missouri. He went to Smith Academy in St. Louis and after that the Milton Academy in Massachusetts, as his family was initially from New England. Eliot started courses at Harvard University in 1906, graduating after three years with a Bachelor of Arts degree. At Harvard, he was extraordinarily affected by teachers eminent in verse, rationality and abstract feedback, and whatever is left of his artistic profession would be formed by each of the three. Not long after the turn of the century, Eliot started seeing his poems and short stories in print. T. S. Eliot was a writer, screenwriter and scholarly commentator and a Nobel Prize victor for his excellent work. Some of his best known works incorporate the poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, Murder in the Cathedral & The Hollow Men, Four Quarters and the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party. His most renowned exposition remains Tradition and the Individual Talent. For his lifetime of idyllic advancement, Eliot won the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.

The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot, showed up during an era when European culture was not knowing as to what to do with itself. Europe had quite recently risen up out of World War I, a war which had damaged the landmass , its general public and society. Numerous people of that time believed in the fact that society has become disordered, chaotic,coldhearted and humans without any sentiments. A feeling of disappointment, disillusion and criticism got to be proclaimed and nihilism became popular and came to the front. The poem then was known as a poem which reflected the condition after the war and how that resulted in degradation and loss of values and ideals,and further resulting, a loss in faith. The Waste Land also expresses the hopelessness which was present in that time in the society. People felt that nothing is left.

The poem commences with the central character of the poem, of the wasteland, thinking about the spring: April is the unkind and callous month, variety Lilacs out of the dead land, amalgamating Memory and desire, blending Dull roots with spring rain. Winter keep us warm, covering Earth in dreamy snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. This passage is an indication of the extent of the dilapidation, deprivation and corruption and degradation of man. The man has drawn and has gone so low into depravity, corruption, and decadence and evil that he now wants to live a life of unawareness and due to this they are not living a complete and a fruitful life. April, the month in which spring starts, is no more a happy time in which new life is commended and rejoiced, yet a coldblooded time of resurrection that reminds man that his own particular life is frightfully unfilled and is empty.

The speaker then reviews the time he initially understood that his life has become empty, blank, vacant and bare. In the springtime, he says, he gave his mate hyacinths. When he gave a glimpse to her, then he noticed that his beloved arm’s were full of beautiful flowers and from her hair, water was dropping, then he anticipated to see joy, contentment, fulfillment and satisfaction on her face, but saw nothing. As of right now, he understands that genuine bliss can’t be found in passing and temporary things. The world holds nothing for him- Oed und scoff das Meer-forsaken and vacant is the ocean. It is conceivable that Eliot resulted in these present circumstances same acknowledgment through a comparable reason, as he and his wife had an exceptionally miserable relationship.

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The hero then goes up against us a trip through society, an excursion that shows the full degree of human corruption and profound spiritual emptiness and blankness. In the first scene of “A Game of Chess,” an affluent couple is indicated at home, living futile lives and a life without meaning which is made out of dull schedules. Their relationship is constrained and simulated, every so self-assimilated that not one or the other can correspond with the other.

The world war I is one of the most enormous disaster and misfortune in the history. The after effects of the war to had a drastic effect on the ordinary people. The condition of that time was also portrayed in literature, and in poems as well. T.S. Eliot is one of the most important war-poet who in his poem the wasteland, depicts the condition of mankind struck in paramount destruction and demolition following the war. The poem is divided into five parts and its puts forward some of the themes like social devastation, thrashing of joy and looking forward in future and belief in nothing. The poem begins with the first part of the poem named as, ‘The Burial of the dead’. In this section , the speaker can be Eliot himself, is describing the seasons. Spring brings reminiscence and the necessitate and need and then the speaker’s memory drifts back to time to munich, to childhood sled rides and to a potential romance with a hyacinth lady. He then goes on remembering some other incidents which includes the fortune teller namely , Sosostris and then he finds himself on the London bridge. The third part ‘ The Heart Sermon’ opens with a picture of river. The speaker is sitting on the banks and muses on the deplorable condition of the world and then the scene shifts to maidens singing a song of lament and one of those id crying because of the fact that the world has lost its innocence to a similarly lustful man. The fourth section, ‘ Death by Water’, describes a dead Phoenician lying within the water. The speaker cries for rain and it finally comes.

Second part of the poem is a very famous part which is named as ‘ A game of Chess’ which focuses on the aspect that humans share some similarities with the pieces just like there are on the board of chess. The title suggests the horrible conditions after the war for the complete society. People were living on the wasteland, and they have been clutched and compressed in a situation just as pieces in chess. One of the line of the second part of the poem which involves the fisher king myth and it underlines the infertility and barrenness of humanity after the war. There was no love , communication between the lovers and thus it resulted in no reproduction at all. The idea of nothingness and emptiness is the central theme of the poem, which is the symbol of realism of that society.

The famous poem the Wasteland is divided into five parts which represents five totally different elements of earth, fire, water, etc, because of the hunter picture in a search. The effects of the war was as such that it did affected the physical environment but it also resulted in the loss of spiritual and moral life and its vitality, liveliness and strength. Because of this condition it was difficult for people to return on the previous innocence and it was marked by emptiness and a search which goes on its journey without any probable scope of improvement. The second part of the poem is also marked by hopelessness, degeneration, infertility, unworthiness and cruel condition of humanity. Humanity has no other option to flee and runaway. But people were still living and continuing there designated roles and was living in horrible conditions around them. The title of the second part is highly symbolic, just as in the game of chess there is an division based on hierarchy, in the same way humans are also divided on several parameters and social realities. The second part of the poem can itself be divided into two parts, the first one is concerned with the richer class and the setting is their respective households. And second part depicts the poorer class and the action takes place in a pub.

The main subject matter of first part is despair , despondency and lack of optimism are portrayed here. The unproductiveness and aridity of the setting is a major theme which is highlighted by focusing on social classes and persons. The barrenness of marriage is also emphasised to all classes of society and the fact that love does not appear anymore. At the end, what is left behind is darkness, dimness and sadness and a crystal clear picture of the wasteland.

Chapter III

Conclusion

Nihilism is one of the most celebrated notion in English language and many writers have taken Nihilism as a subject matter in many of their works. The word Nihilism has long history. The word Nihilism is the resultant of the Latin phrase ‘Nihil’, which means anything does not exist. Nihilism in step with Nietzsche is first of all the situation where the world appears to be without value, morals, and the world after the loss of life of god. There is not any get away from the fact and whilst there is not any approach to reconcile oneself to it, since all of the method have utterly failed. For the world seems to be without value precisely on account that the values we invested on this world are failing: they now not participate in their ordering or organizing perform. This can be a predicament, an untenable trouble, a state of powerlessness that we cannot probably suffer. Nihilism is therefore a transitional state that outcome from having one foot in the historic world and the opposite in the new of expectations proper to the Christian world view.

There are many elements of Nihilism which are found in T.S. Eliot’s the Wasteland. The wasteland causes a sensation once it absolutely was printed in 1922. Nihilism with reference to the Wasteland talks about the end of Christianity and religion as a guiding light to the people because of the growing power of the evil and the victory of good over bad. The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot, came up during an era when European culture and world was not knowing as to what to do with itself. Many people of that time believed that society has become disordered, chaotic ,and humans without any sentiments. A feeling of disappointment, disillusion and criticism got to be emphasized and nihilism became popular and came to the front. The poem then was known as a poem which reflected the condition after the war and how that resulted in degradation and loss of values , morals and ideals ,and further resulting, a loss in faith. The Waste Land also expresses the hopelessness which was present in that time in the society. People felt that nothing is left on which they can believe and attain solutions to their various problems.

With his depiction of London as the ‘unbelievable and incredible city’ whose populace has been fixed by death, Eliot plainly depicts the sadness experienced by the British after the war. The city is not just possessed by the coagulated waterway of sighing masses which courses through its mist secured roads, however by the spooky memories of officers like “Stetson” who lost their lives amid the war. Like The Sound and the Fury, ‘The Wasteland’ endeavors to pass on the agnosticism of its day through its extremely structure and style. By its disconnected lines and various dark references, the poem introduces an age in which otherworldly and existential assurance.Remaining out of sight of this poem is the Fisher King, a legendary figure from Arthurian legend. His barrenness speaks to the sterility of the age, and his just trust is that somebody will ask him what it is that upsets him.

In The Wasteland, Eliot is underlining the way that the issue for present day man is not to be found in the absence of bounteous answers, however in the absence of the best possible inquiries. The age that delivered World War I couldn’t settle its own particular issues; just a come back to the knowledge that had gone before it offered any trust. These works impart a compelling truth: that in his ascent to power and investigative ability, humankind lost his direction. Perplexity rules and his tower is left to disintegrate. This is skepticism: the breaking down of all esteem; the lethal oversight of overlooking that the most valuable things that a man has are not those things which can be full in a wash room, put away in a ledger. Yet, as Eliot saw, there is trust: escape from the maze of negligibility is not found by pressing forward into the dimness, however by taking after the breadcrumbs of times long past once again to the doorway and to escape. The poem’s main element of nihilism can be found in a manner that the death of Christianity and religion as a source of enlightenment and inspiration from is as it is dead because of the increased corruption and loss of values and morals. The poem also gives many examples in various sections about the degrading values and morals and the way people are becoming materialistic and only thinking about themselves rather than humanity on a whole.

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