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Analysis of The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

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Analysis of The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

Eliot, a master of the written craft, carefully thought out each aspect of his 1925 poem "The Hollow Men." Many differences in interpretation exist for Eliot's complex poetry. One issue never debated is the extensive range of things to consider in his TS Eliot's writing. Because TS Eliot often intertwined his writing by having one piece relate to another "The Hollow Men" is sometimes considered a mere appendage to The Waste Land. "The Hollow Men," however, proves to have many offerings for a reader in and among itself.
The epigraph contains two pertinent references (http). First, "Mistah Kurtz -- he dead" is an allusion to Conrad's Heart of Darkness. In his novella, Conrad portrays the empty nature of men. Mistah Kurtz is a character that lacks a soul, thus, a true "Hollow Man." In the second quotation the epigraph alludes to England's November 5 tradition of Guy Fawkes Day. In 1605, Guy Fawkes unsuccessfully tried to blow up the parliament building. Eliot's quote "A penny for the old guy" is called out by children on this holiday who are attempting to buy fireworks in order to blow up straw figures of Fawkes.
Within the first stanza Eliot establishes the speaker, setting, theme and begins a rhythmic pattern that will hold true for four of the five sections of the poem. The speaker in the poem is not human, or at least prefers to be thought of as a scarecrow over a "…lost / Violent soul…" (lines 15-16). The powerful comparison between the worthlessness of "rats' feet over broken glass…" (line 9) to their "dry voices" (line 5) illustrates how meaningless they (the Hollow Men) truly are. Two lines detached from the first stanza contain a series of paradox...

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Miller, J. H. Poets of Reality: Six Twentieth-Century Writers. Harvard University Press,
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Smith, Grover. T.S. Eliot's Poetry and Plays: A Study in Sources and Meaning. Chicago:
University: Chicago Press, 1956. Online. Modern American Poetry. "On 'The
Hollow Men.'" July 7, 2001.
Spurr, David. Conflicts in Consciousness: T.S. Eliot's Poetry and Criticism. Urbana:
University of Illinois Press, 1984. Online. Modern American Poetry. "On 'The
Hollow Men.'" July 7, 2001.
Williamson, George. A Reader's Guide to T.S. Eliot: A Poem-by-Poem Analysis. New
York: Octagon Books, 1979.

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