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MonkeyNotes-The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
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Part Two

The Rich Lady of Situations (lines 77-138)

Appears at her boudoir and is compared indirectly to Cleopatra, the famed Queen of ancient Egypt. Although she is extremely rich and has all the material comforts of life, she is nervous and high strung as she is apparently living in a sterile emotional waste land and seems alienated from her husband. In the long section devoted to her, there are also references to the cruel King Tereus of Thrace, his rape of his wife’s sister, Philomela, and subsequent murder of both his victim and her sister Procne.

The Cockney Women (lines 139-170)

These two women appear in a London pub almost at closing time. They gossip loudly about a third woman, Lil, whose husband Albert is die home from the war and has saddled her with a number of kids. They appear lively and vibrant compared to the jaded and bored Lady of Situations in the preceding portrait.

The Bartender (lines 141, 152, 165, 168 and 169)

He repeatedly utters the refrain "Hurry up please its time" as the two cockney women go on chatting in the bar. He seems to be reminding them that it is almost the legal closing time for pubs in Britain.

Ophelia (lines 172)

The line: "Good night, Ladies ... " recalls the last words of the mad Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Act IV, Scene 5 - line 72) as she leaves the Danish court of Claudius and Queen Gertrude for her impending suicide.

Part Three

The Fisher King (lines 189-192)

A mythical figure of North European origin that Eliot drew from the famous work by Ms. Jessie L. Weston: From Ritual to Romance (1920). According to Weston, the Fisher King ruled a land that fell under the blight of an evil spell, which rendered the king impotent too. Only the purity and courage of a chaste Quester Knight could save him and his land. The concept of the Fisher King is central to Eliot’s rendering of The Waste Land.

Mrs. Porter and her daughter (lines 198-201)

They are characters enshrined in a rather coarse army song popular among World War I soldiers fighting in the North African campaign. These women maintained a bawdy house in Cairo as a "comfort" station for soldiers posted in North Africa or passing through the Suez Canal to other theaters of the War in South East Asia and the Far East.

"Apeneck" Sweeney (line 198)

A character created by Eliot himself in two of his well-known poems: Sweeney Erect and Sweeney Among the Nightingales. He is a type of vulgar, sensual man quite the opposite of the refined, rather pompous and perhaps sterile figure of the aging young man created in his famous poem: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

Mr. Eugenides (lines 208-214)

A merchant from Smyrna in Western Turkey. He makes a rather crude suggestion to the protagonist (perhaps to Eliot himself) that they spend a weekend together at a sea-side hotel, the Metropole, in Brighton.

The typist (lines 222-256)

She works in a London office and stays in a rather shabby and cramped flat. In her lack-luster life, visit from the carbuncular clerk can bring a bit of a "romance."

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MonkeyNotes-The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot


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