Loading
Notes
Study Reminders
Support
Text Version

Set your study reminders

We will email you at these times to remind you to study.
  • Monday

    -

    7am

    +

    Tuesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Wednesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Thursday

    -

    7am

    +

    Friday

    -

    7am

    +

    Saturday

    -

    7am

    +

    Sunday

    -

    7am

    +

When Lil’s husband got demobbed, I said-I did not mince my words, I said to her myself. Hurry up, please it’s time. Now Albert’s coming back, make yourself a bit smart, he will want to know what you are done with that money he gave you to get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there. You gave them all out, Lil, and get a nice set. He said I swear I cannot bear to look at you. And no more cannot I, I said and think of poor Albert. He has been in the Army for four years, he wants a good time, and if you do not give it to him, there are others will, I said. Oh is there, she said. Something of that, I said. Then I will know who to thank, she said and give me a straight look. Hurry up please its time. If you do not like it you can get on with it, I said. Others can pick and choose if you cannot. So there he has many characters here. There is Lil, Lil’s husband, Albert who is away fighting at the Army and he is soon about to come back and there is also this friend who is trying to advise Lil. So there is no ordered rhyme as you can see. It is just bits of conversation, even a little bit of order that the poem seemed to have in the beginning has completely collapsed over here. So classic culture, the tradition to which we were introduced to at the beginning, very elegant and very knowledgeable and very scholarly, and of course very romantic and that has kind of given way into ballroom conversations. There is nothing elegant about this. It is very very direct, it is not subtle at all. It also talks about things which were otherwise very very taboo. So what is this conversation about? Here, from these, from this segment onwards, these lines that we just read out and the rest of game of chess, it is about a woman who is having this conversation with her friend or one of her acquaintances. So one woman is explaining how she told her friend to make herself look good, look attractive for her husband who is returning from the war because he will come back desiring to own her and she should make herself look good for that because if she does not, he may go end up looking at other places. So the woman tells her friend to get her gross teeth pulled out and buy herself a new set of teeth, it is all about the looks. And more importantly, the significant turning point here is that the woman who pretends to be, the woman who appears like Lil’s friend and who is advising her on how to keep her husband is also telling her, if you do not know how to keep her, perhaps I will just chip in and make him my own. So this is the way even friendship begins to work here and this is something that Eliot is doing deliberately to get this thing across. There is hardly anything which is permanent and it is more or less like a very wise, smart moves made in chess. Look at these lines in between in all caps, HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME., HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME. It is the bartender because it is already very late. They want them to leave the bar, leave the pub so that they can close and go, it is almost closing time, it is almostmidnight perhaps or even past midnight. And this is, in fact, a standard thing for the bartenders tosee in the UK when the bar is closing for the night and Eliot is using this phrase as a refrain. You notice, it keeps coming. There are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times where this refrain in all caps is getting refrained. It foregoes you know, it means for one that the bartender is asking them to hurry because it is closing time and at another level, it is also about the modern period, it is also about the speaker being reminded or perhaps the speaker himself reminding the readers that there is no time left. You need to hurry up, it is time and whatever little that needs to be done or not done, that that needs to be either wrapped up or just left alone wherever it is. And this also this refrain which sounds very very ordinary and also a bit creepy at another level, it is in fact, it adds a sense of urgency and desperation. And interestingly, the women who are part of this confession, the one who is listening, Lil especially, she does not seem to get that at all. The sense of urgency and the desperation which the poem is trying to convey perhaps is also with the assumption that the modern readers may not get it at all, they may just continue to find their way through life, navigate their way through life, not even knowing the kind of changes n swept in. And in retrospective when we think about the series of events that happened after the publication of this poem, the Times in between the war and what happened after the Second World War, we are led to be more and more convinced about the arguments which this poem is making that people did not care and they had, they were clueless about the kind of catastrophe that waited ahead of them, think of the Hiroshima Nagasaki bombing which entirely changed the grammar of wars and entirely changed how people can get at each other regardless of how humongous the repercussions could be. So now this conversation, it begins to take an ugly turn. If you do not like it, you can get on with it, I said. Others can pick and choose if you cannot. But if Albert makes off, it will not be for lack of telling. You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique (and her only thirty-one). I cannot help it, she is pulling a long face, It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.(She has had 5 already, and nearly died of young George. The chemist said it would be all right, but I have never been the same. You are a proper fool, I said. Well, if Albert will not leave you alone, there it is, I said, What you get married for if you do not want children? HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME. Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon, And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot. HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME. HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME. It is a very awkward conversation between 2 friends, apparently 2 friends. Lil when accuses her friend of saying if at all her husband goes away with someone else, I will know perhaps who to thank. The friend who claims to be Lil’s woman, she is telling her very very directly that she should be ashamed to look so antique when she has turned thirty-one. And then Lil says the reason for her to look so exhausted and so antique and so old because she has been taking those pills to bring it off. The phrase, bring it off in this case literally to abort a baby and we also need to think about those times which is the early 20th-century, the 1920s and 1930s when taking a pill, it could have serious repercussions. It could have serious strong chemical reactions. It could lead to serious chemical reactions in your body because things were not advanced then. So when she is talking about a pill, obviously she is also hinting to the many relations that she had been having when her husband was away and the pills that she had to take to abort a baby which was perhaps the outcome of one of those relations. And she also talks about her many pregnancies and the 5 babies and how she nearly died when she had little George. And she talks about how she continued to take the drug because the pharmacist said it was okay. So we find these many many things coming together here. The many advancements in the medical field and the many advancements in the field of medicine, the many advancements in the field of technology in general, how that also takes away your life in a very intimate, personal way as well. Of course, I do not think Eliot is trying to be judgemental about the things about the way things are going in the early 20th century but of course, he is drawing our attention to the less visible images which can also be very heart-wrenching and very heartbreaking as well. And here the conversation also begins to break down. The woman who is with Lil is not interested in the conversation, she continues to accuse Lil of many things, even goes to the extent of saying, what you get married for if you do not want children? Suggesting that this is all a part of what you sign up for, that this is a packaged deal that you signed up for, willingly and there is no way out of it. What Elliott is here trying to do is to give a sense of how difficult things have become, how complicated the English society had become irrespective of the very advanced, very posh outer layer that one gets to see. In the early 20th century, there are many many things which are happening in England which also makes it one of the superpowers of the world. They are way ahead of the rest of Europe in terms of their colonial power, they had established themselves as the land where the sun never sets. And we also know about the many many reforms that they tried to bring about in their colonies if we take our own country as an example. We know about the multiple ways in which moderately entered the Indian subcontinent through the many interventions and through the many policy decisions that the colonial administration, the British Crown had taken on behalf of the colony. So we know about the many many good things and the contributions to the postcolonial world that Britain had done. But irrespective of that, Eliot is also saying that but despite that Eliot also telling us that despite this white man’s burden in times despite this holier than thou attitude that the colonial master had always been donning, things are not fine underneath this posh, elegant, all well surface. Finally, before we wrap up, I want you to pay attention to the fact that the theme of infertility is very very prominent and evident here throughout because there is hardly anything productive that is happening. There are a series of things which happens. It is part of the action in some way or the other but nothing leads to anything at all and no one seems to be sure of anything. And here we do not get even a sense of the progress of the idea of modernity or any sense of the technological or advancements in other fields that are getting reflected into day-to-day lives. How relationships are defined, it had touched the rock bottom as far as Eliot is concerned. And it is a fall from the civilisation and from the culture that was before. And in the conversation between these 2 women, Lil and the woman she meets at the bar, if there is one thing that stands out is incredibly painful it is also about these, the image of the lower class women almost killing themselves to abort their babies. And this is an act of self-preservation at some level, to preserve dignity, to preserve their relations and also to preserve their reputation in some way. But in this process, they are killing themselves, their body is getting disintegrated and there is no way in which an intervention could be made at this point irrespective of the hard-hitting facts of modernity as well that we see around. And towards the end, we find that this difference gets stronger, HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME, HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME. And then good night Bill, good night Lou, good night May, good night. Ta ta. Good night, good night ladies, good night sweet ladies, good night. So that is about it. The poem comes to a halting end at this point without really resolving anything, without really bothering us to leave us with some feelgood factor about anything at all and we also realise that there has not been any movement at all from the beginning till the end. There are just a series of images which could represent either the contemporary in the way it is or it could not draw our attention to what the contemporary is not. Beyond that, it does not do anything but irrespective of it, think about the powerful images and the powerful kind of intervention that this poem had then and now. Towards the end, we also find that you know they are talking about going to somebody’s place for dinner and they are trying to normalise things but we also know that they are pretty much meaningless and they do not change anything which is happening here. Here, the barkeeper towards the end, we realise he is practically yelling. He wants everyone to leave, it is time to close down. And the scene ends with everyone saying goodnight to one another and they are very pleasant and polite and we also get to know that when Lil and her friend are having this conversation, there were so many others who were around them. Bill, Lou and May and they are all being very courteous when they are trying to say goodbye. And considering the kind of conversation that they just had about telling Lil that she looks antique, she may even lose her husband if she continues to look like this and does not take care of herself and why did she even agree to get married if she did not want to have children? And given the way these unpleasant things were part of this conversation, it looks quite inappropriate and very ironic that they are very nice to each other. Good night sweet ladies, Lil says, it says but perhaps it is also about the way the modern life is. Everything is part of this friendship and there is no way in which one can continue to be only appropriate and only polite because the modern times and the situations that one is caught within, it also calls for these ambivalences to come together. The final repetition of a good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night, this is again a reference to Ophelia. She is a woman who drowns herself in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. You find how significant the references to Shakespeare are throughout this segment. And Eliot had done this very very deliberately hoping that his audience would catch it but truth be told, it also needs some kind of a scholarly glossary intervention, a scholarly guide taking us through all of these references most of the time. They are not as self-evident as Elliott perhaps had hoped it would be. But that is perhaps the predicament that he is also drawing our attention to that things are not self-evident. They need to be shown in certain ways, they need to be showcased and framed in certain ways that they begin to make sense and it also opens up possibilities to talk about these things. I hope you enjoyed reading this poem and I leave you with this thought, what Eliot and most of the modernists had achieved the most was this possibility that they opened up that it became possible to talk about the modern times, to talk about the early 20th century in ways that were not part of the dominant colonial rhetoric, in ways that were not part of the dominant narratives of modernity, of progress, of technology, of advancement, of newer governments, of newer policies. It was a rosy picture in many ways. Here Eliot along with many other Modernist writers, he is giving us a forum to talk not just about the early 20th century but also talk about the predicament that we are all caught despite the many things, the many narratives, the many rosy narratives which are dominating the society, the contemporary or at any point of time. I hope this helped give you a sense of what this poem is and you also should know that this poem is open to multiple interpretations and the poem, Wasteland, all 4 segments together, it is definitely worth taking a look at and also pay attention to the many scholarly frameworks and narratives within which the poem continues to be situated and the canonical status of course that it continues to enjoy. I thank you for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the next session.