English III AP
Mental illness in literature
Mental illness is a difficult topic to talk about, the next novels illustrate the problem of seeing and recognizing mental illness, and address the issue of which words we use to talk about mental illness. This, is the central theme in “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins and “A rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. The texts demonstrate mental illness through genetically inherited insanity, doctor-patient relationship and self-perception of mental illness in which they all explore the thin line between sanity and lunacy. These breakdowns, have influenced the reader to experience it, feel the alienation and the absence as well as the presence of some deeper level of meaning.
“The Waste Land”, draws much of its symbolism and narrative framework from the poet where he was just recovering after a serious breakdown in health caused by domestic worries and work. The poem presents a bleak and gloomy picture of the human predicament in the twentieth century. “The Waste Land”, a poem in five parts, was ground breaking in establishing the form of a fragmented modern poem. The theme of the novel is essentially the spiritual experience of man; it has to be related to its background. Eliot has referred to the past in order to show the similarity of the problems of both ages and how the experience of the past can help in finding solutions of the problems of our time.
At first, The Waste Land appears fragmentary, even incoherent. The themes of the cruelty of physical existence and the unreality of modern life which dominate the poem’s difficult first part, “The Burial of the Dead,” give way to the simpler but no less horrifying portrayal of upper and lower-class life. In “A Game of Chess": the materialism, the abortions and physical decay of the other. Parts three and four are more deeply and overtly ironic. In “The Fire Sermon,” the reader finds neither the spiritual love that Buddha and Augustine advised the sexual passion that they warned against but only perfunctory sexual encounters that leave the partners as separate and unfulfilled as they were before. “The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king, so rudely forced…”[footnoteRef:1] Eliot refers to the "Rape of Philomel" to symbolize the way that popular culture has spoiled classical forms of beauty for everyone. After the rape takes place, Philomel kills Tereus' son and feeds the boy to Tereus. Therefore, pure physical lust actually leads to the destruction of future generations, even while sex is supposed to ensure the existence of these future generations. In this image, Eliot brings up the connection between sex and reproduction, and it seems that he's not quite sure if physical lust should have any place in sex, especially when rape seems to be the only example of it that he offers. In “Death by Water,” Eliot turns the symbol of physical and spiritual life into yet another form...