Waste Land By Eliot 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 (pg.148).” Tiresias sees and feels all that the typist and her lover are going through. God is a common figure throughout the poem The Waste Land. Tiresias is most God like in his emotions towards the lovers. According to Sukhbir Singh in Eliot’s The Waste Land, “The Christian doctrine of suffering and sacrifice for others is rooted in the message that the savior delivered to his disciples before the crucifixion (pg.47).” Tiresias shows his suffering for the typist and her lover when he states that he has, “foresuffered all.” Tiresias states that, “I who have sat by Thebes below the wall And walked among the lowest of the dead Bestows one final patronizing kiss, And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit (ll. 245-248).” Tiresias admits that he has seen the suffering of the lovers and he feels great compassion for them but he must leave them to fend for themselves. He only sees the future.
He is not able to make them do the right thing he is only able to show them their errors. Thus the reason that he patronizingly kisses them because he can only show them their mistakes. Throughout the poem The Waste Land there are several different allusions. The most complex allusion is that of Christ shown through the character of Tiresias. During the poem Tiresias exhibits many God like qualities. In conclusion Tiresias is used in The Waste Land as a allusion to God by not being able to visibly see the world around him but by emotionally looking at all the things around him.