A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Hysteria’

Posted: February 18, 2017 by vequinox in Literature

Interesting Literature

A critical reading of a short prose-poem

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) published his first collection of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, in 1917. This slim volume included poems written in a wide variety of styles and modes, from vers libre to Shakespearean blank verse, from dramatic monologues to short lyrics. The volume also included one prose poem, ‘Hysteria’, which T. S. Eliot had written in November 1915. Below we offer some notes towards an analysis of ‘Hysteria’, which you can read here.

‘Hysteria’ is a short prose poem spoken by a man in a dining room with a female companion. The woman is laughing – hysterically so, hence the title of the poem – and the man feels as if he is in danger of being sucked into the woman’s mouth as she opens it to laugh. An elderly waiter asks if they would like to take their…

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