Hollow Men Analysis

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Poetry Analysis of T. S. Eliot's The Hollow Men

I picked this poem by Eliot for two primary reasons, one of them being that Eliot is one of my favorite modern poets, and the other being the view presented in it. That view is one of a barren and dead world, with humans as meandering and meaningless objects with no true value, and religion (primarily Christianity) as a futile hope for a salvation that will never be granted. Most of that can be observed in section I, but particularly in lines 5-7, where it is said that "our dried voices... are quiet and meaningless." Within that section, Eliot states repeatedly that we humans are objects without worth, and that our actions and voices mean nothing after we have passed. The statement "Headpiece filled with straw" in line 4 has a double meaning, representing the straw hat worn by simple country people, and also showing a lack of meaningful thought within the human mind. In the last part of this section, there is the first appearance of the recurring theme of eyes (which appears in the following lines: 14, 19, 22, 52, 53, and 62), as well as one of the many references to Hell ("death's other Kingdom", appearing in lines 14, 20, 31, 38, 46, and 65). From this point, the poem turns towards the theme of faith and afterlife.

Delving deeply into the subject of the afterlife, the first half of section II deals with the fear of meeting what waits for the dead ("Eyes I dare not meet in dreams"), as well as the barren and apocalyptic world view which is presented constantly throughout the poem. Additionally, references to Shakespeare and the Bible are made in that part: referring to Shakespeare's "For in that sleep of death..." in Hamlet using "death's dream kingdom"; and referring to the book of Revelations in lines 25-28, with the "voices... In the wind's singing" which can be taken as the solemn cry of the angels announcing the imminent apocalypse, voices that carried across the world on the wind....
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