Ans. The theme of The Waste Land is the spiritual decay, the unemotional sexuality, and the general aimlessness which have characterized all periods of history. Certain ages have, no doubt, produced saints and sages like the Buddha and St. Augustine, but even the people of those ages suffered for lack of religious faith, for
prevalence of lus and moral degeneration. By means of parallelism, Eliot has shown the similarity of problems in the past and the present. He refers to a number of waste lands which are alike in their problems. The root cause of these waste lands, their barrenness and desolation was loss of moral values and sexual perversion. Then Eliot takes us into the very heart of the waste land which was post-war Europe and makes us realize the full plight of a whole generation. Among all the causes of degeneration of the European civilization, Eliot thinks, sex perversion is the prominent one. Sex, the most important aspect of human life, finds its meaning in love and procreation, but it has been perverted from its proper function. Now it is used for animal satisfaction and monetary gains. Easy sexual relationship is found among all the sections of society. Eliot cites several examples of failures in love such as Marie, the German Princess who has a bitter memory, Isolde, who died for love. the Hyacinth girl who became a victim of guilty love, Belladonna, victim of her own nerves, Philomel, reduced to a voice, Lil who looks so antique at the age of only thirty-one, the typist girl and her lover with their indifference to sex act, and the Thames maidens who lament the loss of their chastity.
According to Eliot, modern people, forgetting the values of religion and morality, have become too commercial, self-centred and selfish. Moreover, most of the people in the urban area are suffering from neurosis as a result of frustration, isolation, lack of communication, etc. Thus due to the sins of sexual perversion, lust, the evils of materialism, and lack of faith and morality, the modern world has become a waste land, and the inhabitants of this world are spiritually dead.
Through The Waste Land Eliot not only gives us a record of the spiritual decay of the modern civilization, but also suggests its remedy. He refers to the ancient Indian history as described in the Upanishad, when northern India suffered from drought and famine. The people prayed to Projapati (their Creator) for help. The God answered their prayer and spoke three words through thunders-Da Da Da. These three words are the basic principles of the survival of civilization. The first principle is “Datta” meaning to sacrifice oneself for a noble cause. The second principle is “Dayadhavam” which means to sympathise with the suffering humanity by shaking off one’s egotism. The third principle “Damyata” which means an inner discipline for controlling one’s thoughts and passions.
Phus Eliot suggests that spiritual rebirth or salvation from sins may be achieved through the principles of Datta, Dayadhavam and Damyata. According to him, reformation should begin first with the individual self and then a regeneration of the whole world is possible.
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