Catharsis in Women Beware Women and The Waste Land

The treatment of manipulation singlehandedly serves as the largest parallel between Women Beware Women and The Waste Land for me personally.  Not only do both authors thematically explore this subject in their respective works, they do so to manipulate their audiences/readers into experiencing catharsis.  Elliot’s critical piece, “Thomas Middleton,” seems to downplay his rationale for revering Middleton’s talent as an under recognized playwright because when you actually read a few of Middleton’s plays you quickly realize that they are extremely violent and chaotic, especially The Revenger’s Tragedy (think predecessor to Game of Thrones or The 100).  By creating this sense of turbulence, Middleton aims to rouse catharsis within his audience.  We’ve previously mentioned in class the significance of catharsis to Greek drama, and it is important to acknowledge that catharsis remained a large part of Renaissance drama as well.  Catharsis within this era aims to encourage the playgoer to confess his transgressions, internalize the play’s themes, and reiterate the notion that no crime will go unpunished. (This link to Google Books explains these concepts)

Elliot seems to want to emulate Middleton’s sense of shock value to manipulate his own readers into experiencing catharsis.  In this respect, his homage to Middleton almost becomes meta-theatrical in the sense that Elliot writes about the manipulation of natural order while he manipulates his readers into feeling despondent about the state of affairs in the real world. By the poem’s end, readers should ideally achieve catharsis in the sense that they become aware of the decaying state of society, recognize their role in the destruction, and understand that nature will avenge those guilty of wrongdoing.


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