The melancholy beauty

The poem The Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot conveys a strange sense of beauty through a series of imagery. In the beginning of the poem, Eliot portrays an illustration of a group of people while addressing the reader using “we”, describing us as “the stuffed men/ Leaning together/ Headpiece filled with straw”. Our voices are dry, and when we whisper together, the sounds “are quiet and meaningless/ As wind in dry grass/ Or rats’ feet over broken glass/ In our dry cellar”. The image of the wind, dry grass, cellar and rat create a feeling of despair and disgust We are being described like a pile of scarecrows, lifeless and unintelligent. The author thinks that our daily conversations are pointless exchange of words about trivial matters, and the listeners do not care enough to listen. This part starts off the entire poem with a dark and sad atmosphere.


Since the poem was published in the same year as The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, those two literary works share some ideologies. They both think that people seem to be living a wonderful life, their hearts are dead and pulled down by the weight of money and materialism. The beauty of both pieces of literature come from their melancholy. The novel and the poem revolve around the ideas of death and despair that are often connected with the poor especially during the 1900s. The beginning of IV in the poem describes the eyes, saying that “the eyes are not here/ there are no eyes here/ In this valley of dying stars/ In this hollow valley/ This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms”. This part parallels with the Valley of Ashes in The Great Gatsby, where the eyes of Dr. Eckleberg watch over the death of Myrtle.

Link to poem:


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