Burden and who bears it.

An interesting connection between the readings that I noticed was the inclusion of an unfair or misplaced burden. The story of Tiresias has him settling a dispute between two gods, a clearly unfair burden for any mortal to carry. In the story Philomela, the burden of Thereus’ rape of Philomela are misplaced unto Itys, an innocent child. In the Grail legends often the hero is charged with curing the king (sometimes by asking a question he may not be aware he must ask)  and thus saving the country from turning to waste. This burden is far more than any one person can be reasonably expected to bear.

I believe these instances of unfair or misplaced burden can be connected to The Waste Land by paralleling them with the war dead and war survivors. The younger generation at the time, these men and women sacrificed their childhoods, their dreams, and often their lives in the war because of the wills of the older generation. The burden they carried was both unfair and misplaced.  This parallel can be further seen by noticing the power dynamic in each story and how they are similar to the power dynamic between those who started the war and those who fought in it. Tiresias, a mortal, bears the burden of the gods, Gawain bears the burden of his king and his entire country, and Itys bears the burden of the sins of his father. Itys strikes the closest chord with The Waste Land due to the age and power difference between him and his father.


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