The Waste Land Essay

The Waste Land Essay

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Faulkner presents sexual desire in The Sound and the Fury as a paradox of both entrapment and freedom. As he works his way through the nonlinear piece, information about sexuality of the characters, sexual symbols, and unfilled desire present themselves, each commenting on one another directly and indirectly. T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” serves as a helpful lens in understanding the requirements to escape the waste land of the ruined Compson family by providing a backdrop on which The Sound and the Fury can be projected. In The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner experiments with the placement of the individual in respect to time and other characters in order to introduce sexual discourse in a way that comments on the necessity of sexual understanding in the modern world.
T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” offers an interpretation of the modern world that on one hand underscores the disillusionment of the future in a world that is fragmented and bare, and on the other hand, presents a case for recognizing freedom and meaning in the “heap of broken images” that make up the modern climate. The opening segment “The Burial of the Dead” looks toward a future that is composed of fragments and paradox. The fragments in the waste land that is presented are that of memory. More specifically, the fragments represent a failure in the human condition to connect memories of the past to those of the present in a way that is hopeful and inspiring. Jewel Spears Brooker and Joseph Bentley present this concept in Reading the Waste Land: Modernism and the Limits of Interpretation. Here they describe a waste land in which “She [Marie] perceives the dualistic and paradoxical present as cruel because, in remembering the past and intuiting the future, sh...


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...cter’s sexual desires but rather puts forth bits of imagery to suggest a meaning. This allows for the reader to interpret which version of sexual desire is the best. In a way, the text offers as many interpretations of sexuality in the modern sense as there are readers since the source of sexual desire is not always clearly stated. Faulkner implements in this way a circular logic to understand sexuality in the modern world, it is the cause of moral decay in the modern world, yet sexual desire is born out of the need to piece together the modern world in some way. Ultimately, one can read The Sound and the Fury through the lens of Eliot’s “The Waste Land” to gather the importance of hanging on to just enough of the past while surging toward the future, allowing desires to take hold and guide the characters to a destination that offers insight into one’s self.

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