Themes in Modern Literature

Topics: Eleanor Rigby, Poetry, Lennon/McCartney Pages: 3 (1175 words) Published: February 17, 2013
Modernism in "Aunt Helen", by T.S. Eliot and "Eleanor Rigby", by John Lennon and Paul McCartney "Aunt Helen", by T.S. Eliot and "Eleanor Rigby", by John Lennon and Paul McCartney are poems which comprise characteristics of modernism. Loneliness, social alienation and isolation, double standard and relegation of religion are the main themes emerge from these literary pieces. Miss Helen Slingsby, the poet's aunt in "Aunt Helen", was an unmarried woman who lived alone, except for her servants and pets. Aunt Helen was aloof and isolated, and after her death there was silence on earth and in heaven. The repetition of the word "silence" represents the lack of interest in her. Not only that her death resulted in indifference but she had no impact on anyone's life but her parrot, which "shortly afterwards…died too." "Eleanor Rigby" is also about social alienation and isolation. Both Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie were lonely people, who lived in the same alienating society, worked in a church but failed to make any significant contact with people around them or with each other. Eleanor was the cleaner of a church, dreamed to get married but had to settle for picking up the rice after other's weddings and "waiting at the window" for someone who would not show up. Father McKenzie was a priest who wrote sermons to believers that wouldn't listen ("no one will hear") and spent his nights mending his socks so he could look notable in the eyes of people who excluded themselves from church ("No one come near.") Double standard is another theme in these two poems. Aunt Helen "lived in a small house near a fashionable square" and "cared for by servants". She was a "proper Bostonian", a social class who had been the vanguard of American idealism and progressive thinking and set the standards for taste and good judgment. She didn't have a family of her own, and thus she left her legacy to her dogs and parrot ("The dogs were handsomely provided for"). She cared only for her...
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