Essay Sample on Dante and Eliot Literature

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1014 Words
Date:  2023-01-15


Dante Alighieri momentously influenced the poetry of T.S. Eliot, and Eliot was also thought as one of the best writers and poets in the twentieth century. Eliot used to study philosophy at Harvard College, and that is when he was introduced to Dante. Eliot was influenced by Dante's works such as the "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which consisted of thematic and direct quotations. Mostly, while Eliot was in college, he used to read the works that Dante had written, and they used to inspire him greatly since he considered Dante as the Master (Sloane) and he wanted to learn everything that he could get from him.

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The influence of Dante on Eliot can be identified as by the presence and use of the thematic rudiments, similar images, and unswerving citations. The direct quotes were considered to be simple to recognize because they were inscribed in Italian. Also, there were sentences from the works of Dante, which were translated, and to some extent, they were adjusted to fit in the poetry of Eliot (Praz, 1936). The images that were created by Dante were also predominant to the works of Eliot. For example, how Dante and his imaginations about hell greatly influenced the thoughts of Eliot because Eliot also viewed the universe as a desolate and a cold area, which is somehow what harsh to human beings. There are other familiar themes which are ostensible, for example, Eliot used some of the themes like isolation which he learned from the works of Dante to show how he felt inside him and what used to bother him. Considering these three elements, it is pure that Dante greatly influenced the works of Eliot.

"In the love song of J. Alfred Prufrock," the narrator is seen talking to a potential lover using thematic elements and direct quotes. Prufrock knew many things to approach a woman, and in his thoughts, he could hear the voices of people who were taunting and mocking him because they thought that Alfred was too shy about himself to approach a lady. Prufrock was indeed shy because he feared to show his feelings directly to a lady and that is why he decided to write down how he felt so that the readers could understand how he felt and so that the readers could also stop the people who were mocking and judging him wrongly. This whole poem tells of why Prufrock could not express his feelings to the lady he admired. This is where the first influence of Dante to Eliot's works is identified. For example, the direct quote that is used by Prufrock, which he retrieved from the "Divine Comedy."

The fear of humiliation that Prufrock, he considered it to be his peculiar hell, and this is a thematic influence which was acquired from Dante's works such as the Divine Comedy which is an amalgamation of various forms of hell (Harding, 2012). Eliot's works and Dante's works have similar themes, for example, Prufrock had the inability to show his love to the woman he admired because he was shy and also Eliot has similar problem because he was frustrated since he could not figure out if he should talk to a woman or he should not speak to her.

In the poem "The Wasteland" by Eliot, the influence of Dante is seen again since it appears as a form of themes and images in the poem. At the genesis of "The Wasteland," it is described as a journey which apocalyptic and prophetic to the desert waste. In the end, the narrator is seen walking down the London streets, which are occupied by the ghosts. He comes along one ghost of the dead, and he asks it what happens to the people who are buried underground. This part becomes apparent in "The Wasteland" when Eliot directly copies an image from the inferno of Dante. The influence of Dante on part five shows the impacts when the mind is isolated. This picture is taken from Dante's works where Ugolino, who is placed in the smallest circle of Hell as he listens to sound of the key turning the lock him up and his children starve to death in the hungry tower. Eliot combines this path with the authenticity of the isolation of human beings and the notion that memories can be hurting even though you are the only one seeing them, and no one else is.

The influence of Dante on Eliot's works is once again seen in a descriptive imagery form in "The Hollow Men" which explains of how hollow men cannot decide their fortune, and not like the guys like Fawkes whom Eliot insinuates earlier. Fawkes chose his fate when he decided to blow the house of common in England in the year 1605, but he was arrested and executed before he accomplished his plans (Douglass, 2011). Eliot talks about various empires where the souls are placed, and these empires bring similarity to the Visions which Dante imagined in The Divine Comedy.

The influence of Dante Alighieri on the poetry of T.S Eliot is an excellent example of how Eliot shows his emotions through the writing of poems. Although the ideas of Dante integrate well in the poems of Eliot, Eliot was accused of stealing many concepts that Dante used when writing poems. With those examples of thematic elements, similar images, and direct quotations, it clear that Dante greatly influenced Eliot's works.


Douglass, P. (Ed.). (2011). TS Eliot, Dante, and the Idea of Europe. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved from,+P.+(Ed.).+(2011).+TS+Eliot,+Dante,+and+the+Idea+of+Europe.+Cambridge+Scholars+Publishing.&ots=8F2fKauBRB&sig=AFJvRtedDdTmhM5-Odg5a7zthVU

Harding, J. (2012). TS Eliot's Shakespeare. Essays in Criticism, 62(2), 160-177. Retrieved from

Praz, M. (1936). TS Eliot and Dante. The Southern Review, 2, 525. Retrieved from

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