As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth
were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at
each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of
unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white
checked cloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: “If the lady and gentleman wish to take their
tea in the garden, if the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden…” I decided that if
the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be
collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.

Analysis, meaning and summary of T.S. Eliot's poem Hysteria


  1. ebru says:

    As a “Traditional Modernist” Eliot thinks that “gender” is a mission given by society.but it is appearrant in the poem that the persona (in fact Eliot’s himself) does not feel himself as a man.But he organizes a meeting with a lady but the the hesitation and anxiety overwhelms on him.At every opening of the lady’s mouth he likens it darkened images.And when a waiter comes he spreads pink clothes for the woman nad the white one for the man.This makes him more disturbed and cannot concantrate on anything but he thinks that such trivial things can make his concantration better.

  2. Cary says:

    This poem is loaded. The way Eliot addresses women is a direct reflection of the society which he is a product of. Women overwhelm Eliot, the speaker is being “involved”, “drawn in”, “lost” and finally “bruised” by the woman. It objectifies women and makes them responsible for the actions of men under their spell. This objectification is seen again at the poems conclusion in the discussion of the “shaking breasts.” The woman is being described only by her seemingly nonsense laughter (the reader has no idea why she is laughing) and her body (her teeth and her breasts). Further the more the title of the poem is loaded. It is a direct reference to Freud’s theories of hysteria. Yet in many ways this poem is a love poem. The ambiguity of the author is what makes the analysis so complex.

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