"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality"
Being an expatriate T.S. Eliot was extremely affected by World War I and as a
result his writings were blatantly dominated by his cynical views of the world around
him. Constructed in 1925 Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men" was one of many depressing
pieces that had evolved during the period between both World Wars. It's a poem that
evokes a sense of hopelessness within society, assuring his fellow men that they will get
lost in it or be defeated by it: His overall pessimistic claim being that our world is
corrupt. Generally, Eliot is disgruntled by the profound imperfections in men within his
social order; which include two-facedness, laziness and indifference. He's not pointing
fingers but rather warning us that we're all empty vessels living in a meaningless and
This claim is supported by Eliot's usage of vague and abstract decaying
imagery and repetitive references to symbolic words such as drought, dreams and death.
The poem consists of five segments all of which focus on the "subject of human
nature in this world, and on the relationship of this world to another, the world of death,
or eternity." The first part begins:
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Instead of focusing on one main character, Eliot refers to every man or any man by using
the reference "hollow men." Since the "hollow men" possesses a "headpiece filled with
straw" a picture of a scarecrow denied a brain is envisioned. Without intelligence and
common sense the "stuffed men" are basically helpless men tied to their posts. Eliot...