Hollow Men T.S. Eliot

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Time period

1 was when Hollow men were created and he was possibly trying to portray Humankind’s loss of way from the Church and the sterility of modern technology and inventions. The fact that may technology of resulted in a loss of humanity, loss of identity, and sense of purpose, in their community. This was right after WWI so he was probably saying that the technology and ruthlessness of the war really had devastating effects on people. Yes it was for a country and for a war but in reality that wasn’t the case at all people probably felt numb and hollow despite working for this great cause. That and in WWI was a turn point in machinery so technology had aided in a faster mode of transportation of supplies as well as a more efficient way of killing off people (Machine guns, airplanes and bombs). So in a sense the victims of the aftermath of the war were hollow only clinging to bits of life as everything around them had been disintegrated into nothing.


Constructs a desolate world, (desolate hopelessness) hollow men represent all of mankind and their tragic existence Landscape is fading and is silently descending into a darkness as well as the hollow men in a kind of state of suspension. IN that they can’t turn what they want into reality. (Ex. Conception into creation emotion into response etc. ) Also there is a shadow falling between the intentions and the outcomes of these intentions. So good intentions do not always mean a good outcome.

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The Hollow men are sightless colourless immobile and unable to speak, in that this may represent the guilt of not being able to know what comes beyond death. As well as the fact that technology makes us more dependent on that which is not real so we lose our humanity. Hollow representing their lack of spiritual guidance Mistah Kurtz (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness a novel where men have no ideological or spiritual guidance) So they cannot see beyond this world as it ends because they haven’t discovered some sort of transcendent path. Also hollow in the fact of being afraid to face death or guilt over the deaths of others. Kurtz is both universal genius and hollow man integrity wise and you see a degeneration of his character. Moral hollowness and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. A penny for the old guy � Penny doesn’t amount to much these days thus despite everything done all the actions accumulate to nothing even the most decisive ones. So esentionally men are worthless or not remembered despite everything that they considered great in their lives (Ex. If a solider dies at war it’s a decisive moment but no-one but his family would recognise it).

Highlights man as a finite creature with a finite end despite our attempts to avoid this tragic end. Section I suggestions life without living is hollow section V living without being alive. There is a definite end to life, as we know it so poem about the futility of life

MultiFoliate rose, and violent souls but only as the hollow men as the stuffed men. Redemption is their only answer which is how there’s kind of a divine presence despite all the death and desolation. Towards end bits of lord prayer to show that for Christians God does not readily excuse sin thus “life is very long…It’s so hard to be good all the time” showing the hollow man’s kind of excuse to another life. So there’s a reference of souls going to hell in that for Christians if you do not follow God’s path you are basically condemned to an afterlife of exile and torture. Another reference to this “crossed staves, In a field…” Which kind of shows the crucification of Christ in a vague sense, in that the hollow men are on crosses in fields. This also shows the hypocrisy of some men who claim to believe in Christ and the Lord but do nothing to help their fellow men.

Penny for the old guy Guy Fawkes day in Britain where Guy Fawks is burned by lighting a scarecrow on fire this is when the British defeated the Irish resembles a hollow man in that he is only made from straw.

Literary Technique

References to several famous plays showing the degeneration of characters and their lack of morality, faith etc. to emphasize the point of hollowness. Ex “We are the hollw men, We are the stuffed men, Leaning together, Headpiece filled with straw.” This kind of puts together Eliot’s references to Kurtz, the conspirators of Julius Caesar, and the Gay Fawkes day men as the modern day man who are basically an empty and corrupt breed. Since Eliot implies that hollow men are scare crows and in Gay Fawkes day they burn scarecrows, this would show that the sacrifice of the scarecrows/hollow men would be a kind of rebirth and redeem mankind so without hollow men we could possibly flourish. “We Whisper together” follows this, generally whispers show a sealing of fate or conspiracy both of which are themes in the poem.

Written in first person so establishes a relationship to the images “We are hollow men” rather then “they are or you are”. So creates the common sense of hollowness. So common responsibility and guilt amongst everyone who reads the play.

Designed almost like acts in a play to show the growing media and possibly propaganda techniques that had started to sprout in the time frame. Showing different time frames and the sections being acts of the gradual progression of events to the end of the world. Such as Section 1 is kind of the drama where you realise there’s hollow men in the world. Section II kind of shows the hollow’s men sentiments the creation of these hollow men, ending in the final act which seals the fate of these hollow men.

Urban and Rural landscapes are portrayed within the various sections. Sound of “rats feet over broken glass” representing urban disease and decay, or unsanitary conditions or the fact that rats come out when people have died. As well as the constant use of dry landscape depicts the moral and emotional states of the soul, such as all the life has been sucked out of the people from war. Or in way the dry landscape shows the rural landscapes in that rural lands were becoming dry as more and more people flocked to urban centres.


Dry landscape is portrayed in imagery gives a tone of exhaustion with dried voices lifelessness shows plight of hollow men “dried voices” “Dry grass” and “Dry cellar”

“shape without form shade without colour paralysed force gesture without motion” Could possibly represent emotions in that they have no shape or colour and some emotions can leave people paralysed in surprise fear shock whatever.

“Such deliberate disguises Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves” Animal imagery in that these animals are often found associated to death and crowskin instead of crows could possibly represent the hollow men. Or the facts that the men are trying to disguise themselves shows how they say and look like one thing but actually mean and represent another. Again going back to the hollow theme, of there’s nothing inside of them or going off the saying that a man is his word.

First mention of eyes to show the lack of direction of the hollow men. “Those who have crossed with direct eyes to death’s other kingdom” shows the lack of guidance for the hollow men or any sort of guidance that these men refuse to acknowledge, At the same time could also mean that people face and succumb to death and cannot turn away from this fact so have to accept it. On the contrary this could also show that those who leave for death’s other kingdom have left behind a state of spiritual nothingness, and entered into a recognition of knowledge of this or Heaven in other words. “Eyes I dare not meet in dreams” fear of death of addressing death. This could also mean that if the first reference to eyes is for the hollow men that they are now scared of going to hell (Eyes of souls in hell) and that death’s dream kingdom is in fact heaven which and there are no eyes to watch there. “And voices are in the wind’s singing more distance and more solemn like a fading star. Heaven is slowly fading away. Later in Section IV see a return of the eyes “The eyes are not here, there are no eyes here” showing that people have an apathy towards death they’re still living so it’s not really on their minds or they’re not in a state to make it in their minds. So there’s an indifference towards to those who are dead or soon to be dead. Also this could show the reference to the sterility of the modern world in that eyes that offer hope or shame don’t exist. Being afraid to face the eyes of the dead like a criminal could not face the eyes of a victim. “The hope only of empty men”

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