The Waste Land
How we cite our quotes:
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
"Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over." (251-252)
How's that for romance? Eliot obviously doesn't think much of the young typist, because only minutes after her lover has left, the woman can only sort of half-think that she never really wanted to have sex with him. For Eliot, this couldn't be a bigger betrayal of the beauty and love that sex is supposed to involve. In modern times, all you seem to have are these dirty young people having their dirty young sex in their dirty apartments. Scenes like this would increase the steaminess rating of this poem if they weren't so…depressing.
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone. (255-256)
This might just seem like a boring aftermath to the cold-shower tutorial Eliot just gave us on sex, but it's extremely significant because it makes a direct connection between the loss of sex's value and the spread of mindless modern culture. Yes, the gramophone (early record player) might seem like a fancy antique to us now, but in Eliot's time it could've been seen as the end of true culture. With the spread of gramophones, music became much more of a business than it once had been, and the sale of records was one of the first great blows that pop culture would strike against high culture (which was all about going to the actual live theater and watching an opera or something fancy).