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Eliot’s purpose in writing The Waste Land is undoubtedly to depict the profound panorama of futility and anarchy of the present civilization. In order to do this Eliot follows the mythical method. He thinks that this method would enable him to give shape and significance of the disordered condition of the contemporary life. 

He finds a recurring pattern in various myths and by using them he has been able to concretize parallelism between the past and the present. 

Eliot speaks of a number of waste lands which are so much alike : the Biblical waste land, the waste land of King Oedipus, the waste land of Fisher King and the modern waste land. The sterility and desolation of these waste lands were due to the loss of moral values and sexual perversion. One of the important myths, which is all pervasive, is that of birth, death and rebirth. This was the foundation of vegetation, and rituals in ancient Egypt. In the Christian faith it is represented by crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The historical myths of the Fisher King and Oedipus of Thebes refer to the consequences of sin, which affected the rulers and their lands. Subsequently through repentance and penance, the rulers regained their health and their lands became fertile and productive. The idea is that redemption and salvation is possible through sufferings and purification. Similarly the modern waste land for all its spiritual barrenness and sexual perversity can be saved by self-reformation and life of faith, service and dedication to moral values. 

Parallelism may be traced in the character portrayal also. The tragedy of guilty love is portrayed in the story of Tristan and Isolde, and the Hyacinth girl of to-day. The figure Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks is a woman of the waste land, both ancient and modern. The death-in-life of the original waste land finds a parallel in the passage which describes the plight of the crowd of people ‘flowing’ over London Bridge. The modern city becomes “unreal” like the medieval waste land, like Dante’s Limbo and like Baudelaire’s Paris. Again the violation of the Thames daughters corresponds to the rape of the maidens in the Grail legend which brought down a curse upon gods and men. This parallel emphasises the damage done by love which is sordid and sterile in the modern times. 

To sum up, The Waste Land is replete with so many parallels. The parallels are intended to heighten and accentuate the effect of horror which the thought of the modern waste land is supposed to produce in us. The spiritual bankruptcy of the modern world could not have been more effectively conveyed to us than through these parallels. 


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