The Land and the Waste: Meaninglessness and Absurdity in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

  • Dr. Yasir Arafat Assistant Professor (English), NUML, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Muhammad Qasim PhD English Literature Scholar, NUML, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Tahir Alam Awan English Language Instructor, Dhofar University, Sultanate of Oman
Keywords: Meaninglessness, Chaos, Absurdity, Disorderly, Existence, Significance


After the World War-1, there spread chaos and disillusionment in society, faith got shattered and life became meaningless. Jean-Paul Sartre’s version of Existentialism is based on this meaninglessness and absurdity. Man faces an absurd and meaningless existence in this chaotic world. Thus these two are the main tropes of Sartre’s philosophy. T. S. Eliot also lived in that chaotic age and composed his long narrative poem The Waste Land (1930) after the World War. This poem is based on the consequences of the war that caused absurdity and chaos depriving human life of real significance and value. This study explores and analyses these aspects of meaninglessness and absurdity in The Waste Land (1930) in the light of Sartre’s philosophy and contends to say that almost all of the characters presented in the poem encounter meaningless and chaotic lives. Their lives are without any real purpose and are quite insignificant in a chaotic and disorderly world. So the land is full of the waste only. This meaningless life is nothing but a heap of the waste. By presenting this picture of chaotic life, Eliot intends to forward a solution in the form of rebirth of the lost religious faith and moral values. This research is significant because the aspects of meaninglessness and absurdity accurately relate to our current times where human beings face real existential threat and the significance of life is being lost. This awareness may lead to an immediate solution. Moreover, this study may provoke further research in this area in order to bring out the relevance of literary texts to all times and human life everywhere.