As far as this week’s texts go, a somewhat of a common thread running through Dante’s work, as well as the stories of Philomela and Tiresias, is a state of limbo or repetition. Philomela, Procne, Tereus, are all turned into birds, and it is implied that they spend their days flying around, unable to communicate with others. In The Waste Land, these characters are trapped within the work, chirping, still unable to communicate. The state they exist in within the poem reminds me of Dante’s early circles of Hell, where souls are condemned to the same situation for all eternity.
Tiresias, Philomela, and some characters introduced by Dante, all have something in common in that they all have lost a sense. Tiresias loses his sight, Philomela her speech and for those souls trapped in limbo; their passion, meaning they are not able to accept God or denounce him. This thread is something that runs through The Waste Land as well. We discussed how there is a loss of the sense of touch, or that touch is never mentioned. Also, like the souls in purgatory, Eliot’s subjects are unable to take a kind of action, not just proper action but any kind of action at all (excluding the young man carbuncular).
The character of the Medicine Man makes more sense to me when thought of as something that re-fertilizes the land. This character is different from the others in this week’s readings and I’m not sure yet how he relates to them.