Analysis T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” to me represents several interpretations of death or “the end”. The poem is split into five parts, each part presenting a different point of view or idea of death. There are several “kingdoms” of death presented in the various parts, intertwining within eachother throughout. I view each part as representing a different member of the hollow men looking at the different “kingdoms” of death.
Part I’s presents a dank, dark cellar and is associated with violence and darkness “Violent souls, but not only…” (16). Part II’s presents death’s “dream kingdom” and shows a more beautiful side of death, comparing souls to fading stars. Part III presents “dead land” “cactus land”. We imagine a desert setting, dying of thirst, praying for life. “The supplication of a dead man’s hand/Under the twinkle of a fading star. ”(43-44). Part IV takes place within death’s twilight kingdom that is talked about in part II.
The speaker talks of eyes or the lack thereof in a valley of once again, dying stars. “There are no eyes here/In this valley of dying stars/In this hollow valley/This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms” (53-56). Part V is presents a more broad view of the end, not just for one, but for all. It describes several emotions and actions that everyone takes within their life, inbetween each “falls the shadow”. One could view this as the shadow of death, ever looming closer in everything you do.
The poem ends with “This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/ Not with a bang but with a whimper. “(75-78). Death is something that has always been around me in my life. I have had several family members die around me but this particular poem doesn’t really make me feel anything about them. It makes me think more about what will happen when I die, when everyone dies. The poem provides a bleak view of death but also has a strange beauty about it.
I like the idea of death as various landscapes, something about that sounds strangely appealing despite the apparent lonliness of the hollow men. No one seems to be in pain or very sad, they are just…there. That is similar to how I have always viewed death, not neccessarily as a big experience, you just cease to be. This is exemplified in the final lines of the poem “This is the way the world ends/Not with a whimper but with a bang. ” I don’t believe we are nearly as significant as we believe, when it all ends, it will simply be that. The end.
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