In the fifth and final stanza of Eliot’s The Waste Land, the “wasteland” is physically portrayed as a dry mountain area. Metaphorically, this is the world of sorrow and war. This section seems to become more global, since it does not have specific depictions of any one character, as the previous sections had. Therefore, this final section seems to be representative of a universal wasteland rather than any one in particular nation.
One of the most important imageries in this stanza is the water imagery, or the lack of water. As the stanza goes on however, Eliot reveals the wind which he says is, “bringing rain” (Eliot 395). With the rain comes hope. The water in the dry land represents a solution found in man. The dry land, or the warring world, seems natural and unavoidable, yet the key to the rain is in the behavior of man when he listens to natural law, in this case, thunder.
The importance of what the thunder says is revealed in the footnote. The “Da” references an Indian fable in which thunder commands to “control yourself”, “give”, and “be compassionate” (401). The rain in this dry wasteland comes when man learns to be moral, give, and be compassionate. The only alleviation from the drought in this world is for humanity to come together. The rain, for Eliot, is provided by man being compassionate to his fellow man. The drought in the wasteland is the war brought on when men are selfish and uncontrollable.
Although Eliot does imply some sort of hope certainly, the wasteland remains isolated. The prison imagery leads us in to the ending. Eliot leaves us with a reminder that, “thinking of the key, each confirms a prison” (415). He provides an answer saying to unite, but he admits that humanity cannot come together entirely. Even as men and nations work together, individuals will always be locked alone in his own psyche. Coupled with Eliot’s note on Bradley’s quote, “…the whole world for each is particular and private to that soul”, the prison imagery reveals to the reader that even as nations unite, they can and must always be separate, even as individuals are separate (2308).
As in the first stanza, Eliot is speaking to the nations during war. He believes that they must work together, or the world will always be a wasteland. No nation is exempt. He references many different literatures from different languages to tell all peoples that they must be responsible for this natural law, no exception. In the twentieth century the world becomes more global creating new problems which cause world wars. As the world becomes more global, so does Eliot’s fifth stanza when he deals with these issues and states that the nations must make a bond, yet they cannot give up their individuality. No Hitler should bring them together as one nation, but they each have a command, given by nature, to hold true to national responsibility, and only then will there be “shantih”, or a peace above all understanding (434.) Until then, there will always be war.