Essay 2

Submitted By Relm
Words: 1580
Pages: 7

Eliot's poetry doesn't express emotion but rather he presents external facts and lets these external facts to express the emotion.
Evaluate this statement in relation to the form and feature of The Hollow Men; Journey of the Magi, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

The Modern writer attempts to journey into the subconscious mind but is held back by reality that is the desolation of the war and the chains of religion. The statement that emotion is expressed through external factors is to an extent, true and this can be demonstrated in T.S. Eliot’s poems Journey of the Magi, 1927 and The Hollow Men, 1925 and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, 1915. Eliot’s works revolved around the Modernist movement and provided an avant-garde perspective where humanity was questioned due to the horrific brutality of World War I and increasing capitalism. To the modern writer, the emergence of technology was perceived as cold machinery and hence the alienation and isolation of the individual became prevalent throughout Modernist literature. All three poems have textual integrity as their portrayal of political decay and struggles in faith have stood the test of time and remains relevant to today’s society. The modern world was thus a world where confusion, fragmentation and isolation manifested. Eliot's poetry uses a contemporary setting to shape the reader's understanding of the bleakness of the modern world depicting the harsh reality and truth that God does not exist. According to Eliot: “The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an ‘objective correlative’” To elaborate, this is a set of objects, a situation or a chain of events which shape and form a particular emotion; “such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.” Thus the notion of objective correlative explores how emotions of hopelessness, despair, guilt and horror are expressed via external facts. This is accentuated through form and feature which is demonstrated through: The fragmentation in form which is a motif in Eliot’s poetry, features of nature and infertile and barren landscape, and lyrical form to seduce but ultimately act as a warning to mankind.
Motif of fragmentation in form displays how an external fact expresses certain emotions. The external fact is the fragmentation of the outside world to reflect the emotion of dislocation in the individual, further expressed through the fragmented form of the poems. This is observed in Journey to the Magi, which contains intertextual allusions to the biblical mythology of the birth of Christ: “We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, / But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, / With an alien people clutching their gods. / I should be glad of another death.” The contrast between “returned” and “no longer at ease” suggests that the magi is trapped by his uncertainty. These places, their previous safe haven, are now foreign to them, as reinforced by paradoxical oxymoron, “alien people” which accentuations this dislocation and bleak emotion. The fragmentation represented through the asyndeton symbolises the disjuncture of the magi to what should be a celebrated event. Since the responder follows the magi’s narration, the responder is also stymied in their ability to feel a sense of joy. The objective correlative in “kingdoms”, “dispensation” and “clutching their gods” appear to make God, an omnipresent being, become more material and tangible. The “old dispensation” symbolises the superstitions in their cultural heritage and how it now lacks meaning. These jarring images enhance the fragmentation in the poem to reflect the external world as well as the internal hopeless feelings and emotions of the individual. In The Hollow Men fragmentation is observed through civil strife in the aftermath of World War I: “Remember us—if at all—not as lost/ Violent souls, but only/ As the hollow men/ The stuffed men.// Eyes I…