Humanity Exposed In T. S. Eliot's Hollow Man

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Humanity’s lack of confidence dominates TS Eliot’s poetry, as he desperately attempts to find some sense of meaning in the unstructured and fragmented modernist milieu of the post-World War I era. Manifested in the constant tensions experienced by his personae, as they struggle to bring together the disparate elements of their meaningless lives, Eliot’s dramatic monologues , “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock,” (1925) and “Hollow Men” (1925) reflect the changing ideologies during the modernist time, revealing the paradoxes of humanity as an individual searches for purpose in their life. His power of language exposes an “unflinching, un-romanticized” view of the world and the human condition embodying the disillusionment of the Modern
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The title “Hollow Men” suggests that the hollow men are those who are cowards in the face of the need to fight, giving the impression that hollow men are those without intellect or commitment as his personae’ are caught in a limbo, symbolically and cryptically, “let me be no nearer in death’s dream kingdom,” articulating their dilemmas from which there is no escape. They wander through a barren landscape, which reflects the spiritually, emotionally and intellectually crippling world, a land, where humanity is offered no solace or hope. Similarly in “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” Eliot criticises modern life through the description of a city at night and the dehumanization of humanity by alienation. Eliot’s use of central images of the poem, “death’s kingdoms” and “the eyes”, serve to foreground the lack of direction of the Hollow Men as seen in “paralysed force, gesture without motion” which applies not only to the men themselves, but also to the poem as a whole, which exhibit little narrative progression in the conventional sense and avoids verbs of direct action, thus demonstrating the lack of development in the lives of irresolute men in …show more content…
Due to the historical contexts of the time, Modernists felt isolated, and purposeless and this is reflected in their poems as the Hollow Men’s voices are “quiet and meaningless” and their actions are compared to “wind in the grass” demonstrating how their actions will have no lasting impact on the world, essentially cautioning humanity of the lack of influence, cynical people have. By constructing a bleak and desolate “dream kingdom”, Eliot explores the elusive nature of humanity from spiritual intention, thus emphasising the transcending spirituality of the hollow men, reflecting the spiralling decline of humanity, offering very little hope for one. Furthermore, Eliot depicts the individual floating in a spiritual vacuum trying to find a sense of self. By referring to the river Styx as the Hollow men are not those “who have crossed” and are instead too timid to act and stuck in purgatory state, hence outlining the consequences of indecision and hesitation to act’, Eliot demonstrates how man’s insecurities is represented through “the character’s gesture without motion” relating to the idea of inertia, the incapacity to act. His common use of repetition, “We are the Hollow Men,” highlights the indecisiveness of the Hollow Men, representing the rituality and the paralysis of actions taking place while the structure emphasises and

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