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The Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Nov 15th, 2018

Thomas Stearns Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men has a lot of different interpretations. It can be connected with the author’s poem The Wasteland, however, it is better to consider The Hollow Men as the separate piece of writing which should be analyzed independently.

Moreover, it seems at the first sight that the main idea of the poem is the loss of trust in a human being, the feeling of his/her empty soul and the absence of the sense of life. However, this opinion is wrong and does not deserve attention. The close reading of the poem makes it possible to state that the main idea of the reading is neither the obsession with the fall of the world nor the degradation of the human personality, the focus of the poem is the cry of despair, the attempt to make people pay attention to those who bravely goes to the end.

Before getting down to the close discussion of the poem itself, it is important to pay attention to the epigraphs. There are two of them and it seems that each one carries some specific idea, particular meaning. The first epigraph “Mistah Kurtz –he dead” (Eliot 1086) is a phrase from the Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

This phrase was used by a slave to announce the death of the master who appeared to be a simple man as he died and this shows the loss of some hopes as people considered him as the God. The second epigraph “A penny for the Old Guy” refers the reader to the Guy Fawkes Day. It is possible to refer this quote to the time when people had goals and the modern representatives who have empty dreams and believe in nothing.

Reading this poem, one may feel a kind of mystery. At the same time, the author tells about the pain and sorrow for the whole humanity. The author as if tried to draw the terrible pictures of the future, as if wanted to tell the story of the fearful and devastating events which wait for those who will appear in the future with the purpose to return people to the correct reality, make those become human again. It is impossible to omit the idea of dark shades in the poem.

It seems that the author wants to make people think about the reasons of this darkness and tries to make those change something in order to improve the future. Reading the poem the whole life seems to be grey and lifeless, there is only one reminding of the positive “sunlight” (Eliot 1086), but this light is seen “on a broken column” (Eliot 1086).

The negative and groom nature of the retelling is seen in each line when the author of the poem begins to describe the “dead land”, the “stone images”, a “dead man’s hand”, the dead kingdom, etc. (Eliot 1086). All these images are depressing and they show the reader one more time that the end is close as nothing alive and happy is left.

It is possible to say that Eliot has created the world which does not has other colors different from grey, but considering the modern world it is possible to state that this is the way we are walking and “this is the way the world ends” (Eliot 1086).

Works Cited

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. “The Hollow Men.” The American Tradition in Literature, Vol. 2. Ed. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. New York: McGraw-Hill Humanities, 2009. 1086. Print.

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