Comparing the Use of Fragmentation in TS Eliot and Ernest Hemingway’s Works
T.S. Eliot was s significant figure in the modernist movement of the twentieth century. His fragmented poem The Waste Land is the epitome of the post-World War 1 England and modernist era. The war broke down barriers like Victorian idealism and social divisions but at the same time altered Europe’s physical appearance. Eliot’s The Waste Land showcases the deconstruction as a constant shift in narration and location. T.S Eliot deviated from conventional literary conventions and boosted his optic on experimental and aesthetic language form. He did so to put together sensory experience of alienation and his poetic oeuvre hence affirming the truism of the depth of a poet. Similarly, Ernest Hemingway was also considered one of the most influential writer of the twentieth century. One of Hemingway’s most renowned publications was A Farewell to Arms (1929), with which he attained widespread fame. Despite the continuous decline in quality, Hemingway’s fame increased even after his death. Both TS Eliot and Ernest Hemingway both utilize fragmentation in their works differently. This text discusses the use of fragmentation in T.S. Eliot’s and Ernest Hemingway’s works and its impact on their texts.
T.S. Eliot employed fragmentation in his poetic works to showcase the chaotic situation of modern existence and also to juxtapose his fictitious works against each other. From Eliot’s standpoint, the psyche of humanity had been shattered by the crumpling of the British Empire and World War I (Ahmad, Rasib and Huma, 140). Putting together bits and pieces of images, dialogue, foreign words, scholarly ideas, tones, and formal styles within a single poetic work was Eliot’s way of representing the damaged psyche of humanity and modern society with its barred sensory perceptions. In The Waste Land, Eliot writes the fragments he had shored against his ruins. Practically speaking, each line in this work echoes canonical literary text and academic work and several lines incorporate long footnotes written by Eliot. He does this in a bid to justify his references and encourage readers to keep themselves educated through delving deep into his sources. Worth noting, the references and echoes are also fragments by themselves. Eliot only incorporates parts and not the entire text from the canon. Eliot used the fragments in an attempt to highlight the recurrent images and themes in the literary tradition and align his ideas concerning contemporary humanity’s state with the spectrum of history.
The fragmented mythic method and symbolic connections of allusion in Eliot’s The Waste of Land develops a sense of imagery that is disconnected and a unique style surrounded with self-referential narrative. The mood and tone of Eliot’s work are similar to the current thoughts at the time amongst the many people coming back from war and staying in self-alienating conflicts. They suffered after witnessing the atrocities that took place on the battlefield. The insular form of disconnection or hermeticism in mainstream society was a growing issue following the war that ravaged through Europe. It appealed to the qualities that surrounded the current modernist movement of the contemporary times. The narratives traverse the funeral and festive landscapes that evoke images to do with life and death by individuals affected by society’s dissociation from living.
Eliot’s The Waste Land is a mysterious and elaborate montage of lines coming including works, conversations, fleeting observations, scenery, and even languages. While the styles comes off as needlessly oblique, it enables the poem to attain multi-layered significance, which would otherwise be impossible if the poetic style was straightforward. To incorporate fragmentation, Elliot operated on a superficial level to show how parallel broken relationships and society are and deconstruct reader’s familiarity context to form an individual sense of disconnection. At the superficial level, verbal fragments in Eliot’s The Waste Land lays emphasis on the fragmented condition of society that his poem describes. The poem partly communicates a sense of confusion, despair and disillusionment partly as it was written following the aftermath that followed after World War I during a time when the land and the sense of security of Europeans were in shambles. The text has a disjointed structure that brings out emotions better than the clarity and rigidity of writing that is more orthodox.
Ernest Hemingway’s texts follow modernism and literary movement which were on the rise in the twentieth century. In his work Hills Like White Elephants, Hemingway’s use of fragmentation of plot and time is evident throughout the story. The train is among the various items employed to keep track of time. It provides readers with a break from the talk and keeps the conversation moving forward. Fragmentation goes hand in hand with the experimentation with techniques and languages. Hemingway incorporated unmade characters that were closed off from within themselves in an isolated and confused intimate world.
Hemingway and Eliot both demonstrate the progressive fragmentation of modern life which was a time of great anxiety and fear in post-America. They highlight a shared story pertaining to the human disjointedness in an artistic reaction to the episodic nature of modern culture and society. When modernity is viewed as a world of fragmentation, the modern subject is destined to wander in alienating urban space where social interaction is impersonal and scant (Stoker, 13). However, the private world is also meaningless and impersonal. The tendencies of fragmentation taking place in both private and public spaces are modified and adapted by modern American artists. The two writers both incorporate gaps and fractures in their works that viewers and readers required to close themselves by close viewing and reading. Both Eliot’s and Hemingway’s form a confusing tension and present an unvoiced paradox. This is the case because they are based on fundamental structural absences, which are thematically open nonetheless.
In closing, both T.S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway’s were renowned American writers recognized for their works in the twentieth century. They both employ fragmentation in their narratives, poems and other works of art. Eliot’s fragmented poem The Waste Land is an epitome of the post-World War 1 England and modernist era. The war broke down barriers like Victorian idealism and social divisions but at the same time altered Europe’s physical appearance. Eliot’s The Waste Land showcases the deconstruction as a constant shift in narration and location. In his work Hills Like White Elephants, Hemingway’s use of fragmentation of plot and time is evident throughout the story. The train is among the various items employed to keep track of time. It provides readers with a break from the talk and keeps the conversation moving forward.
Ahmad, Huma, Rasib Mahmood, and Huma Saeed. “A Comparative Analysis of the Themes of ‘War’,‘Love’, and ‘Illusion’in Postmodern Age in A Farewell to Arms and Eye of the Needle.” Liberal Arts and Social Sciences International Journal (LASSIJ) 4.1 (2020): 140-148.
Stoker, William Parker Osbourne. Hemingway’s Mythical Method: Implications of Dante Allusion in In Our Time. Diss. The George Washington University, 2019.