'The Only Hope, or Else Despair': Disenchantment in T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" and "Four Quartets"




Thompson, Ashlyn

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Countless theologians have debated the nature of spiritual meaning within the corporeal realm, with many defending the world’s inherent, sacramental character as the bridge between the spiritual and material. Theories of this enchantment—the infusion of the ordinary, physical world with spiritual value that elevates it to the status of the Lord’s reflection in creation—are discussed in the writings of Max Weber and Eugene McCarraher, whose ideas are developed and corrected in two of T.S. Eliot’s poetic works. “The Waste Land” and “Four Quartets,” written nineteen years apart, span Eliot’s journey into Christianity, as well as following the progress of his own, implicit view of enchantment. In this paper, the beliefs of Weber and McCarraher are examined before introducing Eliot’s own theory through a deep analysis of both poetic works. Following this analysis, the ramifications of his own conclusion are observed through the lens of modern society.



Disenchantment., TS Eliot., The Waste Land., Four Quartets.