Morality is a major consideration in Eliot's essays on the Elizabethans.
He presents verys specific examples, and shows the consequences of specific
I would submit that he was moving from the unrealistic Unitarianism he found
confronted with, to find a more disciplined and focussed view of morality.
It is a major concern in all his plays.
People are forced to face up to the consequences of their actions.
Indeed morality is a very complex matter, not easily reduced to exposition
without oversimplification of its various aspects.
The three dimensional view of the plays is more adequate.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 7:00 AM
Subject: Eliot's Propensity for the Oracular, was Art of...
> "So does that make "Prufrock" second-rate poetry? -- Tom --
> The problem begins with TSE's (perhaps deliberate) multiplicity of
> conflicting (and wopping-big) statements about "what poetry is." I think
> himself commented on his unfortunate ability to coin reverberating
> statements. (I think the text I'm remembering is one that shows he _did_
> have an acute sense of humor. Cf. "How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot,"
> I think begins one of his poems.) The assertion of a necessary relation
> between poetry and morality is one of his more unfortunate oracular
> pronouncements. The trouble begins (but only begins) with the utter
> vagueness of the term "morality." It can cover almost anything.
> "Imperfect Enjoyment is a moralistic harangue (but a very great one),
> And may ten thousand abler pricks agree,
> To do the wronged Corina right for me.
> (Quoted from memory -- probably not exact.)
> But Rochester's great moral harangue is of course incompatible with the
> sense "morality" began to develop in the essays of Addison and Steele and
> became its most common sense in the high Victorian period -- meaning
> abstinence and general stuffiness. (By the same process the Roman term for
> aristocratic power came to apply primarily to female chastity.)
> Now, Prufrock's problem seems to have been his lack of courage to be
> "immoral" in this sense of the term: he fears that if he made an indecent
> proposal he would be laughter at. And from this kernel he elaborates a
> generalized self-contempt culminating in his most courageous act (in his
> estimation) being to eat a peach. (Hah: ambiguity mongers should paly with
> that word "peach" in the context I'm establishing here. Perhaps like Bill
> Clinton he identifies "sex" with full genital penetration, so here he is
> wondering if perhaps if he doesn't have the nerve to propose copulation he
> might have the nerve to offer to go down on the lady.)
> Probably if you worked hard enough with it you could find that "Profrock"
> grounded in morality and therefore is first-rate poetry.
> P.S. I wish some of the more knowledgeable persons on this list would try
> comment in some detail on the opening passage of East Coier (or paraphrase
> other critics who have). All my posts lately have really been circling
> around my effort to get a grip on the way the identification of end and
> beginning culminates in dung and copulation and death.
> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
> Of Tom Colket
> Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 6:29 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: The Art of TS Eliot
> Rick quoted TSE:
> > All first-rate poetry is occupied with morality . . . the problem of
> and evil.
> So does that make "Prufrock" second-rate poetry?
> -- Tom --
> > Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2010 06:14:04 -0500
> > From: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: The Art of TS Eliot
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Chokh Raj wrote:
> > > Charles Baudelaire
> > >
> > > "[I]n his works we see the rejection of the belief in the supremacy of
> > > nature and the fundamental goodness of man as typically espoused by
> > > romantics and expressed by them in rhetorical, effusive and public
> > > in favor of a new urban sensibility, an awareness of individual moral
> > > complexity, ...
> > All first-rate poetry is occupied with morality: this is the lesson of
> > Baudelaire. More than any poet of his time, Baudelaire was aware of what
> > most mattered: the problem of good and evil.
> > TSE