Modernism – Yeats, Eliot, and Wolf Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jan 14th, 2020


Literacy modernism was adopted in the early 20th century when modernist writers adopted a new form of writing. Unlike in the traditional writings where writers could narrate their messages directly to the readers, modernists brought some sense of self-consciousness and imagery in their writings (Lewis The Cambridge 39).

In the modernism literacy, readers are able to understand and involve their minds throughout the pieces of writing. Essentially, modernists worked from the perspective of earlier writers but they overturned the traditional modes of representing work into some new form of expression.

This paper will give a stringent analysis of the works of three modernist writers, Yeats, Eliot, and Wolf. Essentially, the three writers expressed their form of writing by changing the philosophical, psychological, and social thoughts of the earlier writers.

The Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats

The lake Isle of Innisfree is one of Yeats’ most famous poems that earned him a Nobel Prize. In the poem, Yeats describes a small island where one would find peace. The small island is located far away from the busy city where people struggle to earn their living.

The narrator insists that he will arise and go, which is a clear indication that he is fed up with the daily stresses of life (Greenblatt 2391). Yeats applies a change in the philosophical approach to present his modernized poem. Essentially, reality has dawned to the narrator, and he intends to change his locality to an ideal place.

From this point of view, Yeats takes the reader through a powerful imagination of a different kind of life that would prove to be more comfortable than the current lifestyle of the narrator. Yeats brings some self-conscious into the reader’s mind.

The reader is conscious of the fact that whenever people live a life of agony, they tend to have some psychological torture, and thus they have the will to do anything to obtain a new lifestyle that would offer them some happiness.

Yeats’ poem is a clear representation of a drastic change in the psychological, physiological, and social thought in presenting literacy work. While traditional writers would present their work flatly, Yeats achieved modernism by capturing the reader’s minds and taking it through all the proceedings.

Sailing to Byzantium by William Butler Yeats

Yeats poem, Sailing to Byzantium, depicts the manner in which time passes and the aged individuals are disregarded in the society. The narrator clearly describes how the young individuals are powerful whereas the old individuals have no place in the country.

In his poem, Yates depicts that the world changes so rapidly, where, the things in the past and the traditional lifestyles become outdated with time. It has dawned to the narrator that there is no place for the old in the country (Greenblatt 2406).

The narrator of the poem encourages the old people to rise up and air their voices so that they cannot be ignored. There is some form of visual imagery to the readers of how the old are dreaming of being reborn as some monument that would be remembered forever.

The reader imagines of how the narrator will sail over the seas into Byzantium where he would transform into a singing bird made of gold. From the poem, it is evident that realism dawns to the people that the evolving world is embracing change, where, the old and their outdated lifestyles would be forgotten forever.

Therefore, the old people are triggered to think of some ways through which their lineage would be remembered forever. Yeats successfully draws the minds of the readers of the reality of the aging population. Indeed, modernism is achieved in his presentation that attains a self-conscious break at the end of the poem.

Traditional and Individual Talent by T.S. Eliot

Eliot’s essay on Traditional and individual Talent explores the works of writers. In actual sense, almost all topics in the world had been explored before, but writers ought to upgrade the old literature to formulate some new work (Greenblatt 2640).

According to Eliot, writers ought to give tribute to the earlier authors who facilitated their literacy works. Although the original writers would have died, their works remain immortal, as readers would find those works worthy to read. In other words, the reality that writers are ignoring the historical backgrounds of their literature work came to Eliot’s attention.

He was psychologically disturbed because of the writers who did not give tribute to the original authors of some piece of writing. Therefore, Eliot insists that contemporary authors should not repeat the ideas in researches that were previously done, and his social thought achieves modernism.

The writers should struggle to come up with some original ideas, but they should not ignore the efforts of previous researchers, and neither should they replicate the works of previous researchers and writers.

Essentially, modernism literacy encourages writers to research about the past literature to form a comparative basis of the contemporary world. Therefore, the efforts of combining tradition and modernity will influence the writer’s perspective and give a great overview of the future.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

Eliot’s poem introduces the readers to a prototypical modern man who is overeducated and silted emotionally. In spite of the eloquent expression, the modern man’s psyche is tortured in the modern city. This is an ironical beginning that would draw the readers’ conscious of why the educated man is silted emotionally (Greenblatt 2612).

In the poem, Prufrock appears to be speaking to a potential lover. However, the overeducated man knows too much such that he hesitates to approach his potential lover. Prufrock comes across a social gathering of women, and through his conscious, his mind conveys to him that the women are commenting about his inadequacies.

J. Alfred Prufrock rebukes himself for having presumed that he would have an emotional interaction with a woman. Eliot is a modernist writer who describes the weakened psychological human state of the twentieth century. This very insinuating scenario would draw the minds of the readers to think of the contemporary world.

After a critical analysis of the house in which the women are gathered, Prufrock notes that the First World War fractured and alienated the world, however, a time will come when people will be able to do many things in the social world.

In the poem, Eliot’s is able to draw the conscious of the readers to imagine of the outlook of the tortured world after the First World War.

To The Light House by Virginia Woolf

In her literacy work, Woolf explores the internal thoughts of two characters, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey. Mr. Ramsey is an intellect, whereas, Mrs. Ramsey is an emotional woman. The two characters depend on one another, but they are aware of the transient world. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey have the philosophical knowledge that nothing in the world will last forever.

With the awareness of the passage of time, Mrs. Ramsey purposes to live a precious life on earth. In fact, Mr. Ramsey is certain that even the everlasting works of Shakespeare will eventually become void. This fact brings some form of visual imagery to the readers of the reality of transient world.

Ramsey is frustrated by the fact that he will die, and his body will rot. From this point of view, Mr. Ramsey is envious of the geniuses that will live longer than he will, and he is inspired to establish a desirable philosophy.

In his ironical philosophy, Mr. Ramsey argues that an unadorned man has a better position in the world than an immortal writer does. At this point, the reader’s self-conscious is drawn, as one cannot imagine why Mr. Ramsey would envy the lifestyle of the unadorned man.

Woolf uses the Whitehouse as a symbol of the destinations that people are sure of, yet they have to struggle before reaching those destinations. The Whitehouse is a modernist’s representation of some good life. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey are conscious of the passage of time, and they want to make the best of the time they live on earth.

Therefore, as much as there is some light at the end of the tunnel, the readers obtain some conscious that they must use their brains and employ some form of social thought before reaching their desired destinations. Certainly, Woolf achieved the modernist’s level of presenting her work.


From the discussions, it is evident that changes in the philosophical, psychological, and social thought of humankind lead to literacy modernism.

Psychological changes stimulated the mentality of the writers, whereas, philosophical changes stimulated the writers to employ some form of reality and self-conscious instances in their writing (Lewis “Modernist Writing” 697).

Lastly, the thought of a social change influenced the writers to embrace change, and they presented their work in a modernized manner.

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology English Literature. 9th ed. 2012. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. Print.

Lewis, Pericles. The Cambridge Introduction to Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.

—. “Modernist Writing and Reactionary Politics.” Modernism/modernity 8.4 (2001): 696-698. Print.

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