Sex, Violence, and the Natural Order

In The Wasteland fertility and rebirth are overtaken by the violence of WWI. The natural order of spring cannot continue and relationships are changed because of what people have experienced. In the two Ovid pieces, we read there is a similar dysfunction although both follow different structures. In the story of Tiresias, he is called upon by the goddess Juno and the god Jove to help them decide if men or women have better sexual experiences. Tiresias, having experienced life as a man and woman tells the couple that women do. Juno does not like this answer and blinds Tiresias. From this, he is able to see the future but his physical sight is forever gone. For Tereus, Procne, and Philomel the story begins with desire leads to the violent rape of Philomel by Tereus and ends with Procne feeding her own son to her rapist husband. At the end, the three of them return to nature in the form of birds.

Weston’s discussion of the medicine man or healer takes a different turn. In her chapter, she says that the healer was a part of dramatic fertility rituals as well as their usual healing practices. Weston writes of healers who helped heal knights such as Sir Gawain, wounded from violence in battle. This character then bridges the gap between violence and sex. The Ovid stories show sex and loss/violence following one another, as cause and effect. Weston shows that there had to be a resolution of violence/loss before rebirth, sex, and fertility can begin. The Wasteland shows that there has not been a resolution of violence/loss so the natural cycle cannot be completed.


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