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The manner in which Tarot cards play a role in the work of T.S. Eliot's 'The Wasteland'.

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Introduction

THE MANNER IN WHICH TAROT CARDS PLAY A ROLE IN THE WORK OF T. S. ELIOT'S 'THE WASTELAND'. "Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyant, Had a bad cold, nevertheless Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe, With a wicked pack of cards." This is when tarot cards introduced in the work of Eliot 'The Wasteland' in first poem ' the Burial of the Dead'. Tarot cards, undoubtedly, play a very important role as the cards. Various reasons account for this 1. The predictions in 'the Burial of the Dead' come true as the unfolding of consequences in the other poems in the collection namely 'A Game of Chess', 'The Fire Sermon', 'Death by Water' and 'What the Thunder Said'. It is a sort of introduction to the proceeding poems. Eliot intentionally calls the cards wicked since the cards go on to reveal all the misfortunate wicked state of the world- now a WASTELAND. 2. The five elements of nature seen in the cards are parallel to division of the collection into five parts with each part representing an element of the nature. 3. The cards signify the helplessness of the people, and they have lost all hope in themselves and thus have to resort to astrological means to attain hope. ...read more.

Middle

2. Three staves; reportedly the man with three staves: The three staves represent opportunity, which if neglected due to pride, greed or arrogance will lead to hampering of the efforts. Phlebas, the man concerned obsessed with profit and loss i.e. greed eventually suffers. 3. The wheel: It is the Wheel of Fortune marking a change likely to come. It may hold unpleasant surprises. In Death by Water, the wheel of fortune has brought about a change in Phlebus's circle-wheel of life, in which the ship's steering wheel played a role. 4. The hanged man: calls for a temporary pause in life. Preaches cultivation of patience and sacrifice and shuns selfishness, manipulation and emotional blackmail. "The river's tent is broken": in the Fire Sermon calls for stagnation or a pause in life. Indifference has overcome man, as in the case of the typist who responds only by heaving a sigh of relief after sex, or Elizabeth who remains a virgin all her life after the betrayal by Leicester. Tiresias, is a deformed man unique like the hanged man. "Old man with wrinkled female breasts." 5. Death: A new beginning, with the end of an age. Here all that is good is dead as Jesus is crucified Allusion in 'What the Thunder Said': 'He who was living is now dead.' ...read more.

Conclusion

"There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home. It has no windows, and the door swings." The atmosphere of void is created thus. The card signifies imprisonment in an unwanted place, restrictions imposed as in the love story of Elizabeth and Leicester, where Elizabeth died a virgin. To gain freedom from this unwanted place the Wasteland, we must follow the path of Datta, Dayadhvam and Damyata i.e. give, sympathize and control. The syntax of the poems of wasteland have a sort of mystical element in it. The thoughts are fragments which do not reveal the whole truth. This can also be a resort to show that they are images of what the cards indicate by revealing only parts of history and the present circumstances. Our life and worlds in today's wasteland may be reflected back to us in the richly woven symbols of tarot that have some deep significant meaning other than the indicated one. The contemplating hidden truth behind each card is similar to a truth of life, each active today or dormant. Thus tarot can be concluded to be a wise being endowed with divine intelligence by nature itself. In spite of destiny having a great role in deciding the fate of a person, the ultimate outcome is a result of man's action. This is the also what tarot cards specifically wish to convey. ...read more.

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