Centre That Holds: An Inquiry into the Model of Peace and Protection in T.S. Eliot’s Selected Ariel Poems


Author: Kongkona Dutta, Indian Institute of Technology, India
Email: [email protected]
Published: July 27, 2020

Citation: Duta, K. (2020). Centre That Holds: An Inquiry into the Model of Peace and Protection in T.S. Eliot’s Selected Ariel Poems. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.9.1.06


As a poet, philosopher and social commentator of the 20th century, T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) was interested in organising a social structure based on traditional values. Eliot’s intellectual quest through Indic and Western philosophies more or less ended in 1927, as he openly embraced Anglican Catholicism. From then on, he advocated the Anglican centralities involving tradition, scriptural hermeneutics and reason as the vital ways to synthesize a definite order. Thus, Eliot’s Anglicanism is a distinct manifestation of his Conservative politics. Also, Eliot’s allegiance to the ecclesiastical centres as a means to consolidate the European society is akin to Thomas Hobbes’s (1588-1679) social contract theory of society and state formation. Hobbes’s theory elucidates the role of an absolute Sovereign who commands and controls people’s unruly passion through consent and wilful submission. Hobbes saw the state of nature or pre-governmental stage of mankind as “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short” (Hobbes, 1901, p. 97). Hobbes was determined to prevent anarchy, war and statelessness. Whereas, Eliot focussed on constituting a peaceful and protected federal society by relying upon the authority of Anglo-Catholic tradition. Eliot wrote the Ariel Poems after his conversion to Anglican Catholicism. The paper explores Eliot’s theological persuasions concerning social integration by delineating his selected Ariel Poems. It includes a detailed examination of Eliot’s arrival at the Hobbesian contracterian centres through Anglican politics. This article analyses whether centrality is an indispensable principle for peace, order and protection.


Anglican-Catholic, social contract, reason, authority