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The Hollow Men

T.S. Eliot

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Added by: Kara
Well, "Mistah Kurtz--he dead" is a line from Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad). Kurtz is described as both a "universal genius" and a "hollow man" (integrity wise). One of the big points in the novel is Kurtz's upstandingness in "civilization" (Western Europe) and his moral degredation when he is out of his mileu. You should read the book; it's good.
Added by: John H.
And "The Hollow Men" is the poem that *Colonel* Kurtz reads at the end of Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola's movie based, in part, on Heart of Darkness.
Hollow Man
Added by: Mordant
I'll tell you, with the unselfconscious arrogance of the truly apathetic, that I'd like that poem a lot better if it only consisted of section V.

Section V seems to be the only part that coincides with Kurtz's howling moral hollowness... This is not the hollowness of stuffed shirts living hollow meaningless lives, it is the hollowness of the will to power unchecked, the hollowness of the individual who has (to paraphrase Coleridge FROM some essay or other), decided to be limited only by "Brute matter and superior force."

On the other hand, there is an interesting kind of play on the word "Empty" throughout the poem, and unlike Conrads presentation of "White" in seems to actually signify, denote and connote different ideas, to be a vehicle of different values, throughout the poem...

There may be more there than I thought at first glance.
Added by: Nick
Although I know nothing of this Kurtz person, I still have to ANALYZE what this poem is saying for my AP English final. If you look at it, section I is suggesting life without living as being hollow. And in section V we also see the suggestion of living without being alive. This poem ends the way it begins. Significant? I'll get back to you on that one...
Added by: Perry
What a great poem. I know everyone wants to talk about The Waste Land and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock when it comes to Eliot, but this, in my opinion is his finest work. The last 4 lines, This is the way the world ends... etc. is also the opening to Stephen King's The Stand. A penny for the Old Guy was a typical children's saying in England, and may also refer to them using the saying at executions, and such events. The name The Hollow Men itself, may or may not come FROM Shakespeare's Julius Ceaser, where men are referred to as Hollow Men and ordered to SHOW their mettle. This poem seems to represent the frailty of life and just how strong death can be. As we progress through the poem, we become more acquainted with death, and when we reach section III, the poem changes tone drastically, as if there is no turning back at this point. Line 64 in section IV probably comes FROM Paradiso, by Dante. Only fitting it seems that the man who gave us our representations of Heaven and Hell make an appearance as we journey INTO Hell with Eliot. As this world seemingly progresses furthur INTO nuclear holocaust, does anyone want to argue the last four lines? It may be one bomb to start it, but the rest of the world will simply fade away without much of a fight.
Added by: ellen
ok i know nothing of any of the author mentioned but the first time i read this poem all i could think of was that religious belief that if you didnt fight you would die- that is, you are either on good's side or evil's side... those in the middle wont win
whatever- just wanted to post my thoughts! dont yell at me!
Added by: Donna
In 'the hollow men' there are alot of lines taken from other texts, perhpas significant ones throughout history. Can anyone tell me where 'Life is very long' comes from? Its been buggign me for a while!
Random thoughts on Hollow Men
Added by: Kevin Merideth
One of the consequences to Eliot's writing style is that it leaves a tremendous window of opportunity to be misconstrude. The Hollow Men is not necessarily about a journey into Inferno, Purgatorio, or Paradisio, but it definitely centers around the evil figures of the ages-- this much is obvious from the allusions to Kurtz, who stands as a living testament to the fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely. As the poem progresses, there may be some perdition references, but I'm not entirely sure. However, those final four lines stand out most readily in my mind-- the repetitions of "this is the way the world ends", and then the clinching aspect: "Not with a bang, but a whimper." The man couldn't have shut this poem down with more finesse.
old guy
Added by: Jen
"A penny for the old guy" comes from the British celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, at a battle in which the British defeated the Irish. Each year on this day, the British burn Guy Fawkes in effigy by lighting a scarecrow on fire. Guy Fawkes, or "the old guy", resembles a hollow man, as he is only made from straw.
Added by: dylan
this had to have been the worst poem i have ever read. i didnt get it at all b/c it was so confusing and stupid.

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