The use of multiple languages and references to other literature makes it difficult for the reader to comprehend The Waste Land. This directly ties into the state of the world following World War I because it was incomprehensible and confusing. Eliot utilizes English, French, and German languages, and the countries of origin for these specific languages all had major parts in World War I and were heavily impacted by the war. The seemingly jumbled mixture of these languages gives the poem a more fragmented and choppy style. For example, at the end of the first section, the narrator abruptly breaks out into French when he exclaims “You! hypocrite lecteur! -mon semblable,-mon free!” (76). It is possible that Eliot’s use of various languages served the purpose of illuminating the clash that occurs when all of these countries are united, as shown in the recent war.
Through including multiple narrators, Eliot confuses the reader and increases the complexity of The Waste Land. There were so many people affected by the war in different ways, and by including a variety of narrators Eliot is able to emphasize this vast impact. The various narrators are also tied together by some common themes. At the beginning of the poem, the speaker mentions how “April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land” (1-2). The last speaker in the first section asks his friend “That corpse you planted last year in your garden, / Has it begun to sprout?” (71-72) which immediately made me think back to the speaker at the beginning. The idea of planting a corpse in the ground relates to the idea of a “dead land” and the sprouting might therefore be a reference to the “lilacs” previously mentioned. Eliot seems to be illustrating the cycle of life, and how the death of one generation brings about the birth of a new one. This cycle of life was especially prevalent in the many minds following the war, because so many deaths had occurred, especially the deaths of young men. This broke the normal cycle of life and death and made it much more complex, so Eliot might have felt the need to use a more complex metaphor to describe it. During the war, the waste land of battlefields would be strewn with dead bodies, and in the years after the war that land probably healed from all of those deaths and flowers began to cover the death and bring new life. This is one example of a link between the different narrators despite their seemingly different personalities.