A wasteland is a devastated or barely inhabitable place or area; a way of life that is spiritually and emotionally dry and unsatisfying.
The driving force of all life is re-birth and water provides the potential for renewal. The Waste Land portrays a dead land that lacks the fertility and sexual force needed to sustain and progress life. The Waste Land is a land void of what is needed for re-birth.
Water is a symbol that is used extensively in the poem "The Waste Land" as it is a basic requirement for all life. The Waste Landers fear of and depression about life is expressed to a great extent through their disliking and uncertainty of water. Water is almost definitely the main symbol within the poem and it is the lack of water that devastates and indeed creates the waste land.
Between all the characters, there is a constant expectation of rain throughout the poem; this is not necessarily in hope of it, there is also a fear of rain, an utmost suspicion of water and what it may bring.
The Waste Land is narrated by the Waste Landers. Section one moves backwards and forwards across time and to different places over the globe. Mainly, there is the view of the "Unreal City" of London and other urban cities in Europe where the reader is introduced to characters such as Madam Sosostris, who is presented as a famous fortune-teller in London. In this first section, named "Burial of the Dead", "Oed und leer das Meer" translates as "Desolate and void the sea." Madame Sosostris also talks of the drowned Phoenician sailor and says, "fear death by water." Those who live in this deserted land, the Waste Landers, inevitably think that water will lead to drowning, and they forget that it is water that refreshes, that cleanses and that baptises. The Waste Landers are unwilling to leave their arid Waste Land to go on a search for meaningful and enjoyable life.
As the poem develops, T.S Eliot begins to show a way out for the Waste Landers and water becomes a desire.