Internal Anxieties and Conflicts in T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”

By Roohollah Reesi Sistani and Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study uses the object relations theory within the theoretical framework of psychoanalysis, to explicate and investigate how the male protagonists in “The Waste Land” are faced with internal anxieties and conflicts as they struggle perpetually to seek the idealized loved object, challenged by a lack of gratification that is the result of their failure to establish healthy relationships with the female characters. Reading and analyzing Eliot’s selected poem through the lens of the synthesized concepts of Melanie Klein and D. W. Winnicott in the area of object relations theory, this paper provides a study which concentrates on the male characters’ anxieties and disabilities in unifying their emotional relationships (good and bad, love and hate feelings) with the female characters. In this study, the male characters’ internal anxieties and conflicts are traced and related to their early inability in experiencing a well introjection of their primal loved object (mother). This study presents a reading which attempts to explain why the male characters in the selected poem constantly fail to successfully establish satisfactory relationships with the female characters and abandon them in their perpetual search for the idealized loved object. Instead of directly applying psychoanalysis, this study identifies the behavioral patterns and symptoms of these frustrated male characters and seeks to find the causes within the psychoanalytic framework using object relation theory. The study concludes that the male characters’ anxieties and conflicts, such as the state of being dependent, and their inability and failure to achieve satisfactory emotional relationships with the female characters are all the results of a past unsatisfactory mothering situation during their childhood. Hence, the male characters, strive perpetually to relinquish and abandon the female characters and their whole life is an endless search for their idealized loved object.

Keywords: Anxieties, Depressive Position, Good-enough Mothering, Klein and Winnicott, Object Relations Theory, Paranoid-Schizoid Position

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 8, pp.127-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 678.439KB).

Roohollah Reesi Sistani

Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Roohollah Reesi Sistani obtained his Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Iran in 2003. He then moved to beautiful and evergreen Malaysia in 2008 to begin his postgraduate coursework and research in Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya

Associate Professor, Head of the Department, Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya is an Associate Professor in the Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. She is also the Head of the Department of English from 1 May 2010-June 2013.

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