This week, the narrative of The Waste Land changes once again. From a game of chess between a couple who has lost interest in each other, we travel now to a bar where two women are having a conversation.
I did not make a mistake there, Eliot does use ‘what you done’. Remember, this epic poem is about the loss of culture and education in post First World War society. The noble Albert has been in the trenches all this time and now he is coming back. A woman is telling Albert’s wife that she will be held accountable for how she looks.
Teeth are a very powerful symbol. In dream analysis and symbolism, dreaming of losing one’s teeth is not a good sign. In fact, it is probably the worst thing you can dream of.
Our modern day society puts a lot of emphasis on teeth for aesthetic and health reasons. In communities where poverty is prevalent, the lack of affordable oral health care is a big problem, as many diseases become entrenched in the body through lack of buccal health. In certain parts of Canada and the US, it was common practice -even as close as one generation ago- to pull out people’s teeth and have them wear dentures. This was quite dramatic if you were a 20 year-old who had to take out her teeth in the evening and you suddenly looked like an 80 year-old.
In any case, Albert loves his lady and has given her money to get new teeth. But has she?
This part of the poem that we will explore in the next weeks touches upon themes that are near and dear to me: the female experience, obedience, friends who are really enemies and the right of dominion over our own reproductive rights. I hope you’ll come around!