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Title:Narrative Consciousness in T. S. Eliot's Poetry
Author(s):Hayman, Bruce Mcneill
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Abstract:T. S. Eliot's poetry has always presented readers and critics with a number of problems in terms of narrative technique. Throughout his work, there are very basic questions concerning who exactly is speaking to whom. Eliot has also been labeled, and rightly so, a poet of consciousness. Yet, if these poems are investigations of consciousness, then surely the narrative stances in them must convey a good deal of the meaning about Eliot's definition of that topic.
My objectives in this dissertation are three-fold: (1) to examine the overall pattern of development in Eliot's narrative stances from "Prufrock" to Four Quartets; (2) to provide analyses of specific poems in terms of their narrative stances; (3) to investigate how each particular stance or combination of stances implicitly defines consciousness.
The overall pattern of Eliot's narrative development might be very generally graphed as a simple parabola, at the apex of which is The Waste Land. Eliot began primarily by writing poems in the first person about very specific, private situations--"Portrait of a Lady" and "Prufrock." He then moved progressively in the first two volumes toward a broader use of the third-person voice in poems about various aspects of the public world. At the apex of this development, The Waste Land, one finds the most sophisticated mixture of a wide variety of narrative stances and Eliot's most thorough analysis of the public world. Thereafter, in "The Hollow Men," he begins a withdrawal from analyzing the public world and from the broader, third-person narrative stances. Toward the end of his career, his poems become more heavily concentrated on the first person and on private situations in "Ash-Wednesday" and Four Quartets.
In the course of pursuing this parabola, I focus on the following major narrative trends: the doorway narrator (a unique development of the dramatic monologue); the combination of the first-person singular voice with the omniscient voice; the composite Eliot narrator/persona (an outgrowth of the doorway narrator) and its relation to the Impersonal Theory; the combination of mythology with narration; and the final uses of all these narrative techniques when consciousness itself becomes the primary subject in Four Quartets.
Issue Date:1984
Description:225 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8422076
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1984

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