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The Ways Dante Influenced T.S.Eliot's Works

T.S. Eliot is regarded as 1 of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and his poetry was drastically influenced by Dante Alighieri. Eliot’s introduction to Dante was in his college years at Harvard, exactly where he studied philosophy. Eliot read Dante’s works extensively in college and might have meant to “apprentice” himself to find out every little thing he could from the master (Sloane).

Dante’s influences on Eliot consist of appearances by way of direct quotations, similar images, and thematic components. The direct quotations are simple to uncover because they are written in Italian, but there are also lines from Dante’s functions that have been translated and slightly adapted to fit into Eliot’s poetry. Dante’s photos are also prevalent among Eliot’s performs. Eliot’s view of the world as a cold and desolate spot was greatly influenced by Dante and his visions of Hell. Equivalent themes are also apparent Eliot often uses themes such as isolation from Dante’s operates to express his personal inner feelings. At least one of these three components can be observed in most of Eliot’s operates, so it is clear that Dante influenced Eliot.

The influences from Dante in “The Really like Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” contain direct quotations and thematic components. In “Prufrock” the narrator, Prufrock, seems to be addressing a potential lover. Nevertheless, Prufrock “knows” too significantly to just strategy the lady in his mind he can hear other people’s voices mocking and taunting him. Prufrock is really shy about expressing his feelings, and he is only telling us, the reader, beneath the assumption that no one particular else will hear him admit to his fear of others judging him. The entire poem is about Prufrock explaining why he can't express his feelings of adore to the woman he admires.

Dante’s influence initial seems in “Prufrock” as a direct quotation from The Divine Comedy as the first epigraph:

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse

A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,

Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo. (1-six)

The epigraph literally implies, “If I thought my reply had been to one particular who could ever return to the world, this flame would shake no much more but since, if what I hear is true, none ever did return alive from this depth, I answer you without worry of infamy (“The Enjoy Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot).” This sets the tone for the rest of the poem Prufrock can speak his shame only due to the fact he thinks no one particular who hears his confession will condemn him for his cowardice (Drew 827).

Prufrock’s worry of humiliation appears to be his own individual Hell the idea of folks having their own private Hell is a thematic influence from Dante. Dante’s perform, The Divine Comedy, is a compilation of diverse versions of Hell. In “Prufrock” it is obvious that Prufrock is feeling anguish more than his inability to express his love for the woman he admires (Bloom 17). Eliot’s aggravation appears when he can not choose regardless of whether or not to speak to the lady:

And certainly there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair

[They will say: “How his hair is increasing thin!”]. (37-41)

Prufrock is obviously frustrated and is even self-conscious of his bald spot when he is contemplating regardless of whether or not to inform the woman he adores how he feels. Prufrock is so concerned about his look that even when he is trying to speak to the lady, he cannot quit considering about what other people feel of him. Prufrock finds his inability to go on with life without having worrying what other folks think is creating him miserable, offering his personal private Hell.

Dante’s influence seems once more in the kind of photos and themes in Eliot’s “The Wasteland”. At the beginning of “The Wasteland” there is a description of a prophetic, apocalyptic journey into a desert waste. Near the end there is a extremely obscure section exactly where the narrator walks by means of the streets of London populated by the ghosts of the dead. The narrator meets a ghost and asks him what happens to the corpses in the ground. Part one particular ends with a famous line from the preface of Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal, “You! hypocrite lecteur!-mon semblable,-mon frère!” (76) This quote is accusing the reader of sharing the poet’s sins (Martin).

In the following passage from portion 1, Eliot describes similarities among the crowd and the flow of souls into Hell in Dante’s Inferno.

Below the brown fog of a winter dawn,

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so numerous,

I had not thought death had undone so many.

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,

And every single man fixed his eyes just before his feet. (61-65)

These city dwellers are lost and lacking values and damned to Hell for all eternity. The description of London as an “Unreal City” suggests that the corruption inside the city cannot be imagined and seems like Hell to Eliot (Bloom 42). Near the end of part one, when Eliot quotes Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal, the quote implies that the poet and the reader have sinned, thus damning them to Hell. This exemplifies the theme from Dante that each person has sinned and they will go to their own private Hell.

Dante’s influence becomes apparent in component five of “The Wasteland” when Eliot requires an image straight from Dante’s Inferno. The 1st half of the section builds to an apocalyptic climax, as suffering men and women turn out to be “hooded hordes swarming” and the “unreal” cities of Jerusalem, Athens, Alexandria, Vienna, and London are destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again. The poem ends with seemingly random fragments of children’s songs, functions from Dante, and operates from Elizabethan drama.

Dante’s influence in portion five expresses the effects of isolation on the mind. In the following excerpt, the image portrayed is taken straight from Dante’s Inferno where Ugolino, who is damned in the lowest circle of Hell for treachery, hears the memory of the key turning to lock him and his youngsters in the Hungry Tower to starve to death (Drew 838).

I have heard the important

Turn in the door as soon as and turn as soon as only

We consider of the essential, every single in his prison

Pondering of the important, each and every confirms a prison

Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours (411-416)

Eliot connects this passage with the reality of human isolation and the idea that memories can be painful even if only you can see them and no one else can.

Once once again, Dante influences Eliot in the kind of descriptive imagery in “The Hollow Men”. “The Hollow Men” is an explanation of how the hollow males could not choose their fate, as opposed to Guy Fawkes, to whom Eliot makes an allusion earlier. Fawkes plotted to blow up England’s House of Commons in 1605, but was arrested ahead of he could set off the gunpowder. Fawkes was executed, but he chose his fate, unlike the hollow men who appear to have no control more than their final destination. Eliot often mentions various kingdoms exactly where souls are getting kept these kingdoms bear a striking resemblance to Dante’s visions of the afterlife in The Divine Comedy.

The similarities among the Kingdoms pointed out in “The Hollow Men” and Dante’s visions of the afterlife are really equivalent. Death’s other Kingdom in “The Hollow Men” relates straight to Dante’s Inferno, exactly where the violent souls go. Eliot’s Death’s Dream Kingdom, exactly where those who are suffering towards redemption go, is amazingly comparable to Dante’s Purgatorio. When the hollow males are waiting to cross the “tumid river”, the river is analogous to Dante’s River Acheron, the river that separates Purgatorio and Inferno. The Kingdom of God is comparable to Dante’s Paradiso (Southam 99).

The hollow guys are also equivalent to the souls in Dante’s Ante-Hell of Neutrals. The hollow men died without having shame, but they were not praised either. The notion of the Ante-Hell of Neutrals is equivalent to the Catholics’ belief that babies who had been not baptized don’t go to Hell simply because they haven’t committed any sins, but they can not go to Heaven since they have not been resolved of the original sin. Rather these souls go to purgatory. These souls, like the Hollow Males, do not deserve to be recognized as “violent souls” simply because they have not done anything wrong. The hollow men have “Gathered on this beach of the tumid river” (60) exactly where they will keep simply because they do not have sufficient motives to be in Inferno or Paradiso. Each of these beings have been forgotten since they were neither good nor evil (Bloom 61).

Dante Alighieri’s influences on T.S. Eliot’s poetry are excellent examples of Eliot’s expressions of feelings through his poetry. Eliot has been accused of stealing several of Dante’s concepts, though they appear to be effectively integrated in Eliot’s poetry. It is apparent that Dante has influenced Eliot in the form of direct quotations, equivalent imagery, and comparable thematic components.

Operates Cited

Bloom, Harold, ed. T.S. Eliot. Chelsea Residence Publishers, 1999.

Drew, Elizabeth, ed. Significant British Writers. Harcourt, Brace & World Inc., 1959.

Martin, Melissa. SparkNote on Eliot’s Poetry. 19 Mar. 2006 <>.

Sloane, Patricia. Notes and Observations on T.S. Eliot’s Early Poems. 19 Mar. 2006 <>.

Southam, B.C. A Student’s Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot. 5th ed. Faber & Faber, 1990.

“The Enjoy Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. 20 Mar. 2006 <>

Willard, Jeff. Literary Allusion in “The Hollow Men”. 15 Mar. 2006 <>.
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