Diana Manister wrote:
> Yes dehumanized. De-civilized too, if you will,
"decivilized" (which is also not Eliot's word) is an even more
inappropriate metaphor than dehumanized. The behavior of the clerk is
only possible within civilization! For one thing, even in a
pre-capitalist class societies she would not have been living alone or
preparing her own meal. Those tins involved international commerce.
Moreover, the entire episode presupposes the atomized social relations
which appeared embryonically in the 175th-c (and Milton with amazing
prescience grasped) and only fully (and only in England & the U.S.) in
the 19th-c. They were only beginning to develop in France & Germany (and
this enters into the causes of WW1).
So whatever the young man and woman are or are not, they are highly
civilized -- and surely Eliot had enough of an historical sense and was
precise enough in his language (even the silent language of thought and
intention) that he would never have seen these characters as
de-ciivilized. These vague, sloppy categories introduced by readers
rather than the poem trivialize the whole poem.