Middleton and Eliot as Recorders of Human Experience

In his essay on Thomas Middleton, Eliot argues that Middleton was a more important literary figure of the Elizabethan era than he is commonly given credit for being. While Eliot admits freely that Middleton’s writing could be tedious with overly long, moralizing speeches and a commitment to the tropes and themes that ruled the period, Middleton accomplishes something other playwrights did not. Middleton, especially through his female protagonists, captured real and lasting human emotions. For this reason alone, his plays deserve to stand the test of time. Bianca of “Women Beware Women,” Eliot argues, is as real a woman as any that can be found in an Elizabethan tragedy. Middleton’s characters are true to life even when nothing else is. Although Middleton espouses no central message or value through his works and his character and personality are almost entirely unknown, he served as a recorder of human life and experience. Similarly, Eliot plays no role in “The Waste Land.” He did not write of his own experience of the war or how it directly affected him. He chose, instead, to share a variety of stories and experiences outside of himself to represent the conflict and its repercussions. Like Middleton, Eliot seemed to try to play the faceless recorder of human experience in writing “The Waste Land.”


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