T.S. Eliot was arguably one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. His work is so excellent that it continues to dominate discussions on literature even today (“E.E. Cummings.”). Eliot’s unique writing style that has gained him an extraordinary reputation is directly linked to his influences during the early part of his career. His writing is allusion heavy; gloomy subject matter and tone are often noticeable in his poetry. This technique stems from turmoil in Eliot’s personal life, his academic background, World War I, and the Modernist movement.InfluencesEliot’s earliest influence came through his education experience. Born to Henry Ware and Charlotte Stearns Eliot in 1888, Eliot’s parents jump-started his formal education by enrolling him at Smith Academy in St. Louis. By 1906, he was studying at Harvard; he then graduated with his MA degree in 1910 and would return to Harvard later to study philosophy as a graduate student (“Modern American Poetry”). Eliot persevered through all his years in school and became a very learned individual.Another influential factor in Eliot’s writing career was his personal life. He relocated to London in 1914, where he then met his future wife Vivien Haigh-Wood and his mentor to be Ezra Pound (“Modern American Poetry”). Pound saw Eliot’s potential immediately and assisted in the drafting of many of Eliot’s poems, most importantly “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (“E.E. Cummings.”). This positivity affected Eliot’s career, earning him good publicity amongst other avant-garde poets of the time. Together, they were able to publish the popular volume Prufrock and Other Observation by 1917 (Bush). On the other hand, Eliot’s legendarily unhappy relationship with his wife Vivien Haigh-Wood was a negative influence on his career. Their sudden marriage in 1915 almost caused a family disaster between Eliot and his parents because they did not approve of Vivien’s history of mental illness. Early in the marriage, Vivien’s involvement with another man caused Eliot and her relationship to sour even more. In 1919, the death of Eliot’s father who he had hoped to mend feelings with combined with another one of Vivien’s mental downturns caused Eliot to have a nervous breakdown that he wouldn’t truly recover from for years. He wrote his famed poem The Wasteland while trying to get back on his feet in 1921 (Bush).Another large influence on Eliot’s writing came from WWI and the Modernist movement that sprang up during that time period. The war began in 1914 and ended in 1918. At the time, the realities of war hit the world hard, and big groups of society lost hope in Western ideas and optimistic Victorian morals. Feeling disenchanted, artists of the time looked for a new way to respond to the changing world. Thus, Modernism came about, reflecting the cynical outlook of postwar society (Kuiper). Since Eliot lived smack in the middle of wartime London, he was not immune to the attitudes of the masses and Modernist ideas are present in his work.StyleOne rhetorical move key to Eliot’s writing style is allusion. It can be seen extensively in his work, one example being The Wasteland. Within this poem, Eliot references spiritual texts such as the Bible and the Hindu Upanishads. He also alludes to other poets like Shakespeare and Dante Alighieri; alludes to Dante’s Inferno (referenced in lines 62-65) and Purgatorio (referenced in lines 293-295) give readers a particularly hellish vision of Eliot’s world. He even dedicated The Wasteland to Ezra Pound, calling pound “Il miglior fabbro”, which translates to “The greater craftsman” (Eliot). This use of allusion stems back to Eliot’s philosophical study at Harvard; since one must be well learned both inside and outside of the classroom to effectively use allusion, he took advantage of it to demonstrate how knowledgeable of a man he was. Since Eliot felt that the individuals of society should’ve always worked towards obtaining more knowledge, the allusion in his pieces also encouraged readers to become more learned in order to better understand his poetry. His dedication also speaks volumes about how sharing the editing process with Pound influenced The Wasteland.Another aspect of Eliot’s writing style worth noting is tone. His work is very dark and gloomy. For example, in his poem Prufrock the narrator has low self-confidence and doubts himself constantly. Throughout his life he wonders,”Do I dare?”, but never takes action. His watching and waiting keep him from enjoying life, and he spirals into depression (Eliot). The gloom and doom present in Prufrock reflect the conditions of Eliot’s private life at the time. When he wrote the poem, he was going through a tough time with his wife. He would later go into a brief depression as well (Bush). Prufrock’s struggle to know when to take charge of his life mirrors Eliot’s. The harsh realities of World War I also inspired fear in Eliot’s community and that fear found its home in Eliot’s writing.ContentBetween 1910 and 1925, Eliot often wrote about the post-war Earth, passivity, and the fragility of time. Both The Wasteland and Prufrock have these subjects in common. For instance, in The Wasteland Eliot speaks of the great cities of Jerusalem and Athens falling at the hand of war; in Prufrock, he saw “the moment of…greatness flicker, and…the eternal Footman hold my coat and snicker” (Eliot). Writing about these subjects was his way of expanding on the situations humans would be in before and after WWI. The uncertainty of the time period brought about the Modernist idea of not wanting to subscribe to overly optimistic Victorian views while not knowing how to react to the shifting world (Kuiper). Eliot personally subscribed to the worst case scenario and imagined post-war Earth as being significantly destroyed. These pressing concerns about the future of mankind would forever be the cause behind the subject matter of Eliot’s work.Conclusion To conclude, Eliot’s allusion heavy, gloomy subject matter and tone stem from turmoil in Eliot’s personal life, his academic background, World War I, and the Modernist movement. The cause of much of his writing success was a cynical attitude shared by much of early 20th-century society; Eliot’s writing style made his poems relatable to his audience. If his personal history had been different in any way, his style could have been drastically altered.