An analysis of T. S. Eliot’s "The Waste Land", generally acknowledged as the most influential poem written in the twentieth century. After establishing the background and importance of the poem, its themes are analyzed in detail, with students being forwarded to lines which exemplify the themes.
The major part of the handout is devoted to the five sections of the poem, where students will work with the structural interconnection of these sections, aspects of characters, imagery, allusions, irony, and the use of myth. The exercises in this part of the handout prepare and encourage your students to pursue other areas of this intricate poem.
My handout, which has blanks which your students can fill in, is suitable as an in-class activity or for homework. A two-page Answer Key, in which I have added commentary on other aspects of "The Waste Land" that you may wish to incorporate into your classroom, is provided on separate sheets at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.