Take this The Waste Land Quiz to test your knowledge of the book. We update the quiz regularly and it’s the most accurate among the other quizzes.
The Interment of the Dead
It doesn’t get off to the best of starts, and it just gets worse from there. The speaker of the poem describes how spring is a terrible time of year, bringing up memories of bygone days and unfulfilled dreams. The poem then changes to a woman named Marie’s childhood memories. This is followed by a description of twisted, dead trees and land that is unsuitable for growing anything. Suddenly, you’re in a room with Madame Sosostris, a “clairvoyant” or spiritual medium who tells you your fortune. As if that wasn’t enough, you then see a crowd “flow[ing] over London Bridge” like zombies (62). We’re getting there…
A Chess Match
You are brought to the glitzy chamber of a wealthy woman, where you observe an image of “the change of Philomel,” a woman from Greek myth who was raped by King Tereus and then transformed into a nightingale, hanging on the wall. Some nervous person begs you to stay the night since their nerves are awful. This is followed by a few more segments in which you are loosely asked what you know and remember. The section concludes with a scene of two women discussing and attempting to sneak in a couple more drinks before the bar closes. Also, you must try to play this The Waste Land Quiz.
The Waste Land Quiz
The Fire Sermon Section three begins with a speaker sitting beside London’s River Thames, lamenting the fact that there is no enchantment left in the world. For a brief moment, the focus shifts back to Philomel’s story, before another speaker discusses how he might have been approached by a “Smyrna merchant” for a weekend of sex (209). Following that, you’ll hear from Tiresias, a mythical blind prophet who was transformed into a woman for seven years by the goddess Hera. You hear about a situation in which a modern young guy and lady, both of whom are unattractive, are having this really horrible, loveless sex. Finally, you overhear someone singing a popular tune, which seems dismal in the setting of this poetry.
In a brief scene, you see a dead sailor named Phlebas decompose at the bottom of the sea, and the poem instructs you to remember this young man anytime you begin to feel overly proud. T.S., that’s a great idea.
What the Thunder Declared
Section five transports you to a stony region devoid of water. There are two persons strolling, and one of them detects a third person in his peripheral vision. When he looks over, the other person vanishes (it’s like one of those squiggly lines at the corner of your eye). Thunder rumbles over the scene in a dramatic moment, and its roar appears to say three Sanskrit words: Datta, Dayadhvam, and Damyata, which command you to “Give,” “Sympathize,” and “Control.” This is followed by a repetition of the phrase Shantih, which means “peace that surpasses all comprehension.” T.S.’s concluding word, after all that slogging, may give us a glimmer of hope. Then again, perhaps not.
About the quiz
This part of The Waste Land, like “Prufrock,” can be viewed as a modified dramatic monologue. The four speakers in this section are desperate to speak, to find an audience, but they are surrounded by dead people and blocked by external circumstances such as conflicts. Because the portions are so brief and the situations so perplexing, the reader is left with the idea of being stuck in a crowd, unable to recognize a familiar face.
The Waste Land, like “Prufrock,” uses only partial rhyme schemes and short bursts of structure. These are supposed to both reference and rework the literary past, achieving both a stabilizing and defamiliarizing effect. The Waste Land’s world bears a certain resemblance to a previous era, but it cannot be handled in the same way. The addition of pieces in languages other than English confuses matters even more. The reader is not expected to be able to translate these immediately; rather, they serve as reminders of twentieth-century Europe’s global nature and of mankind’s fate after the Tower of Babel: we will never be able to fully comprehend one another.
For more trivia quizzes check this: Ferret Quiz