Who are the Three Thames Daughters?
The three Thames daughters were the girls living on the bank of the River Thames and were sexually assaulted. Eliot associates them with the Rhine daughters of Wagner's opera Gotterdammerung (The Twilight of the Golds). According to the story, the Rhine daughters guarded the magic hoard of gold coveted by both gods and giants.
The gold was stolen and then restored. The gold represents the beauty of the river, Rhine. The loss of the gold represents the loss of the beauty and charm of the Rhine. So, in the opera, the Rhine daughters lament the loss of the Rhine gold which damaged the river. In The Waste Land the three Thames daughters lament the loss of virginity. They are the victims of fraud and each one has her own story of lust and outrage.
How were three Thames Daughters ravished?
First Thames girl: The first Thames girl was born in Highbury, a residential suburb in North London. She was violated both at Richmond and at Kew, two riverside vacation spots, haunted by pleasure seekers. She remembers that her chastity was violated at Richmond while she was lying on her back on the floor of a small boat. She had raised her knees to make it possible for her seducer to perform the sex act with her.
Second Thames girl: The second Thames girl belongs to Moorgate, a locality in the eastern part of the city of London. She was ravished at Moorgate by a man. She remembers that after the act the ravisher was repentant and promised to reform himself.
But the girl made no comment because the promise cannot undo what has been done to her. She has nothing to repent for what had happened to her. She knew that any resentment or anger on her part is useless. It expresses her extreme dejection, frustration, and sense of helpless.
Third Thames girl: The third Thames girl belongs to Margate Sands. She was also ravished on the Margate Sands. After the sexual assault her mind was awakened. She does not remember what happened to her. She remembers only her violation by a lover. She is compared to broken finger-nails of dirty hands.
Her parents accept the seduction without grumbling, as something that could not have been avoided. Such seduction is a part of life of the poor people. The stories of the three Thames daughters show that the unreal city of London is burning on the fire of lust. It is a waste land.