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Chromatic Symbolism in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land


Komal Prasad Phuyal, PhD, Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) employs colors to depict various shades of emotions of the post-World War I in Europe in his ‘The Waste Land’ (1922). On the one hand, the poetic treatment of colors indicates the plight of the world; on the other, the colors embody the myths of the ancient world and help deepen the meaning of the text. The poetic genius employs Tiresias as the persona who can travel through time and space bringing together different hues of the world into a single collage. Eliot’s choice of color reveals to the modern audience the deeper schema that he builds to represent the devastated state of Europe after World War I. Having lived the life of both a woman and a man, the protagonist has been blessed with the power to foresee things despite his blindness. The seer weaves a garland of colors in ‘The Waste Land’ to represent the damage the War had in the soul of the people, in the value system of the society, and in the changing socio-political reality of the time. In this paper, I contend that Eliot uses color symbolism in the poem to enforce the modernist ethos of the fragmented world where the lynchpins are missing. Through close reading of the text, I analyse the language to arrive at the conclusion that Eliot’s use of colors reveals a whole, new spectrum of meanings.

Keywords: Chromatic symbolism, Modernism, Fragmentation, Poetics of colors


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How to Cite

MLA 9th Edition 

Phuyal, Komal Prasad. “Chromatic Symbolism in T. S. Eliot’s the Waste Land.” BL COLLEGE JOURNAL, vol. 5, no. 2, Dec. 2023, pp. 07–16.


APA 7th Edition 

Phuyal, K. P. (2023). Chromatic Symbolism in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. BL COLLEGE JOURNAL5(2), 07–16.


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