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Choose one poem or passage and write about the ways in which Eliot presents women.

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Introduction

Choose one poem or passage and write about the ways in which Eliot presents women. * Look closely at the effects of language, tone and form. * Relate the passage/poem to other texts by Eliot. A Game of Chess focuses on two contrasting prospects, one of the higher class and one of the lower. Eliot chooses to society throughout this poem through the roles of the women in these opposing classes. Although the two different characters are from very different scenes, neither are what Eliot might consider an ideal female role. In the first section of this passage from The Wasteland, Eliot describes a woman who is from the higher end of society. He dedicates 110 lines to describing her setting, in which lies some extremely ornate and costly items, "The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it". This may reflect the woman's character in that she obviously cares a lot about her valuables and possessions. We know it is not Eliot that dedicates this much amount of detail to the woman's environment but more a reflection of what the woman herself is thinking, it creates the effect that this woman is very materialistic in a very negative sort of way. ...read more.

Middle

/ Speak to me." This shows us her insecurities in that she requires someone to stay with her and keep her company. She feels she cannot be alone. We may see her to some extent as a rather self-destructive character. The way she doesn't wait for a reply from her husband shows us that she immediately looks too deeply into things. She assumes there is a reason why her husband is not responding straight away, "Why do you never speak? Speak". Here, we see similar characteristics that we see in J. Alfred Prufrock. Both are neurotic, self destructive and internally frustrated. Prufrock suggests that the women that he meets at tea parties will be judging him and making fun of his looks and clothes, "They will say: 'How his hair is growing thin!'" This may suggest that while Eliot chooses to attack the role of women in this way throughout this passage, he has the consensus that it is in fact men and women of this class that seem to share the same insecure negative qualities. The form of this half of the poem seems to be mostly in blank verse, however, as the poem continues the line length and meter of the poem seem to get more irregular and less predictable. ...read more.

Conclusion

The information in this passage may come across as shocking and deplorable to the readers, perhaps opening their eyes to what the real lower class is like. Eliot doesn't hold back in terms of details about Lil and it makes it rather blunt. Lil's friend seems rather unsympathetic towards her and somewhat impatient about Lil's attitude towards getting new teeth and having an abortion. Lil's friend thinks that there is no sympathy for Lil as she shouldn't have got married if she didn't want children. With the lack of pity from Lil's friend and the shocking details, the reader may be made to feel sorry for Lil and the position she is in. Eliot presents this woman in contrast to the woman in the first half of the passage. Here, we see that Lil is uncultured and is faced with rapid ageing, something that we assume to be no issue for the other woman, with all her money. Eliot also compares both women to specific women from literature. In the first section, there are brief references to Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, "like a burnished throne", in which Cleopatra ends up committing suicide. ...read more.

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