Eliot on Middleton

Eliot writes that Middleton’s strength is not projecting a personal viewpoint into the morality of his characters. For example, Eliot seems to think that the characters in both his tragedies and comedies are imbued with the same vain and seedy motivations that apply to and also transcend the Elizabethan era. Middleton’s influence on The Waste Land is probably most apparent in part two. The two women who appear in part two appear in different scenes/ scenarios and contrast greatly from one another. After reading Eliot’s essay, it can be inferred that their characters are both inspired by Middleton. For example, the wealthy woman at the beginning of part two is surrounded by luxury but it is extremely overdone. The wealthy woman goes on to plan the stages of her day, which tie the stanza back to the title of the section, “A Game of Chess.” The woman towards the end of part two plotting the next part of her seduction of a married man. These two characters fit Eliot’s description of Middleton’s characters as “vain.” In Middleton’s play, Women Beware Women, the characters of Bianca and Livia perhaps the more vain and selfish characters. Their motivations as desperate, knifing, and self-centered reflect the women in part two of The Waste Land.


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