1. Is there any significance to Eliot's use of the word personage to
characters in The Waste Land?
2. Is there anything to be gained by lining Prufrock up against
Nancy Gish wrote:
>I think Sweeney is a very vividly defined personality even though he
>emerges from several poems. "Character" need not always involve
>development. Snopeses, for example, are very definite characters whose
>character is precisely to be Snopeses. They don't change much, with
>only a couple of exceptions, like Sarty. (And we've all learned the
>new-critical distinction of "round" and "flat" character, so development
>has been critically bracketed there.) I think in the sense of being a
>fairly complex figure with more than emblematic presence, the young man
>carbuncular may also be called a "character." There are many very
>dramatic scenes in the early poems--especially, of course, "Sweeney
>Agonistes," but that may also be seen as an early drama. But he has
>strong, if fragmentary, qualities in "Sweeney Erect." It is a subject
>of debate, no doubt, if Prufrock is really a character, but the poem CAN
>be read as a dramatic monologue of a very detailed persona.
>I think what I am getting at is that there is not so sharp a division as
>seems to have been implied between a "character" in, say, a play, and
>the figures who populate the poems.
>>>>[log in to unmask] 07/20/05 8:59 PM >>>
>Nancy Gish wrote:
>>On the other hand, I agree in general about "characters," but there
>>some. I think Sweeney is a "character" even outside "Sweeney
>>Agonistes." And I think Lil and her interlocutor are "characters."
>>Perhaps the point is that at times Eliot's poems are dramatic or have
>>dramatic sections, as "A Game of Chess" is.
>"Character" does ordinarily evoke the question of "character
>development," as in a novel or drama. And there is certainly not much of
>that in Eliot's poetry. But it could be used simply to refer to an
>reference to an agent (other than the poem's controlling voice), however
>undramatized or undeveloped, that enters the poem. E.g.
> In the room the women come and go
>or the small house agent's clerk, or even the "loitering heirs of City
>directors." Eliot's poems are often populated. I don't know what would
>be accomplished by looking over characters so identified, but one never
>knows. Walk-on parts as it were.
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