Because no one narrator appears to be speaking the poem, the work seems as impersonal as a crowded London street.
The five sections of also constitute Eliot’s “objective correlative,” a chain of events that sparks a particular emotional mood.
Once again, the setting was bleakly urban and the sensibility of the speaker was distinctly modern, which meant that the speaker’s viewpoint was ironic, detached, and resigned. Scholars still debate the impact on subsequent literature of these relatively short prose articles, most of which were written for literary magazines or newspapers.
Students of modern English literature agree, however, that these essays, like the poems that preceded them, permanently altered the way readers assessed poetry.
Poets were no longer able to join the intellect and the emotions to produce true masterworks.
These three ideas—the impersonal theory of poetry, the objective correlative, and the dissociation of sensibility—certainly changed the way American and British scholars studied poetry: Innovative critical schools, such as the American New Criticism of the late 1920’s and 1930’s, were the result, and university training in literature was also changed by these principles.
The mood is one of despair, loneliness, and confusion—the central feelings, Eliot believed, of modern city dwellers.
During the early and mid-1920’s, Eliot struggled to emerge from his own private wasteland.
Writing about the poetry of Eliot is difficult for a number of reasons.
One major difficulty is that Eliot himself helped dictate the rules for how critics interpret poetry.