What are the main themes of T.S. Eliot’s ‘Preludes’? What aspects of the poem would you identify as modernist techniques? What does Eliot’s poem express about the condition of the human subject in early twentieth-century modernity? You need to substantiate your essay on a close reading and critical analysis of the poem.
T.S Eliot’s ‘Preludes’ is a prominent modernist poem that vividly reflects his opinion about the impact of World War I’s traumatic experience, questioning at the same time the future of humanity. This poem is constituted by four images (Preludes), each of them taken from the urban setting, where the decline of humanization, people’s alienation and lack of progress are depicted with the greatest detail. Despite this situation, the poet is still hopeful of an alteration that will be feasible only by people’s initiative and not by waiting gods to save society. Firstly, Eliot stigmatizes the mess that dominates society after the Great War and describes the misery and poverty that haunts people’s lives. He portrays an isolated and fragmented world, something that is evident from the “grimy scraps”, drawn from the general sense of the filthiness and untidiness of the landscape. This feeling of fragmentation is also strengthened by the indirect indication of the presence of people in the first stanza, even though this is not ever stated. In addition, society’s deprivation and misery are artistically depicted when Eliot talks about a meaningless and corrupt world that is constantly characterized by a mechanic routine when he uses the verb “revolves”, as well as the phrase “vacant lots”. Furthermore, people’s conduct is identical to the whole sense of misery and bitterness, as they are presented malicious and malevolent, and often prone to “sordid” actions. Under the pretence of helping, they appear to have a clean conscience by day, in order to conceal their dirty deeds happening at night. The society is completely broken and no one really cares...
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