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The Waste Land: Tiresias As Christ

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Poetry & Poets

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In T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land there are several allusions. The most profound allusion in the poem is relayed through the character of Tiresias. Tiresias is a blind prophet who shows up in several different literary works. In The Waste Land Tiresias is an allusion to Christ. This allusion is best illustrated in section 3 of The Waste Land "The Fire Sermon".
The first description involving Tiresias occurs in "The Fire Sermon", "I Tiresias though blind, throbbing between two lives, / Old man with wrinkled female breasts I can see (ll 218-219)." The first impression the reader is given of Tiresias is of a blind man who is old and wrinkled, but able to see things. Tiresias sees many things throughout the poem. According to J.G. Keogh in, O City, O City: Oedipus in The Waste Land, "Tiresias can imagine how things look from what he hears: the clatter of breakfast things, the thudding of tins, the sounds of the typist's young admirer as he gropes his way downstairs in the dark (pg.194)." Tiresias is able to use his other senses to see what is going on around him. He becomes an observer of everything around him.
Tiresias is used in the poem as the observer of the typist and her young lover. He sees all of the hurt going on between the characters. Tiresias states that, "And I Tiresias have foresuffered all / Enacted on this same divan or bed (ll.243-244)." Tiresias seems most Christ like at this moment in the poem. According to Steven Helmling in The Grin of Tiresias: humor in the Waste Land, "Tiresias participates in the suffering he sees, like Christ; and he has foresuffered all like Christ (...

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Keywords: the wasteland tiresias

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