Parallels Between "The Hollow Men" and the Great Gatsby

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AP Junior English
4 December 2011

"The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot and The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald but have similar themes and were both published in 1925. These pieces of literature illustrate two similar opinions on the same time period. There is a parallel between the two works that can easily be shown. The reoccurring themes of senselessness, unattainable fantasies, and facade appear and both works and can be cleanly displayed.

"The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot states in lines three trough six "We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw..." and in The Great Gatsby a man in Gatsby's library comments on how his books aren't hollow, how they have pages with words. You see this throughout both works, this comparison between things of substance verses things without cause or meaning. There is a deficit of the former and the later is looked down upon. "Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion." is how T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" describes this unsatisfactory lack of significance. The Great Gatsby shows this with different subtle symbols like the books in Gatsby's library. There are also a lot of empty and meaningless gestures used in The Great Gatsby, "Lips that would kiss Form prayers to broken stone." is how Eliot describes these empty gestures (lines 50-51).

Another reoccurring theme in these two pieces involves the unattainable fantasy. In The Great Gatsby this is clearly illustrated by Gatsby's love of Daisy, not of the real Daisy, but the Daisy he's made in his mind. Gatsby is constantly reaching for her and the green light at the end of her dock, which is symbolic of his unattainable dream. Eliot illustrates the same point by using the reappearing image of a star. The star is usually dying or fading and distant (lines 29-30, 46, and 56). "The Hollow Men" shows that there is this glorified perfection that is chased after, but unachievable.

It is evident...
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