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Lance Hofer-Draper
Professor Cosmin Ritiviou
English II
27 February 2015
The Strongest meaning of The Hollow Men

Commenting on the The Hollow Men by T.S Elliot, Katherine Ebury suggests, in
her work "In this valley of dying stars": Eliot's cosmology, that The Hollow Men has a
scientific meaning. To support this, she uses the facts that, Scientific popularizations
such as Eddington's The Nature of the Physical World (1929) and James Jeans's The
Universe Around Us (1929) made continuing cosmological debates available to the
public and to modernist authors during the time Eliot was in preparation for this poem.
Because these debates were made available then, she says that Eliot may have become
aware of the sciences, and that expressed in The Hollow Men is such knowledge. Even so,
when looking at the tone of The Hollow Men, it may be seen that the strongest meaning
of The Hollow Men lies outside the realms of science into the area of spirituality, for the
tone of the Hollow Men is desperate.
Starting at the beginning of The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot setup a desperate tone
tone in using the word death when saying, Mistah Kurtz-he dead. Because death
appears so soon in the poem, it can produce a feeling of desperateness in the reader as
ordinary things that normally would not produce the feeling of desperateness mentioned
in the here after of the poem are then read. One instance for example, in the first stanza,
Eliot says that voices are meaningless. Without the initial appearing of death in the
beginning of the poem, the thought that voices are meaningless may not produce the
feeling of desperateness in the reader. Nevertheless, any hope is gone because it does use
the word death and this gives the whole poem a similar tone.
Interestingly enough, this theme is seen in many of Eliots poems (The Wasteland.
Etc.). Because the theme is the same in the majority of Eliots poems, it could strongly
reveals how T.S Eliot feels in his personal life.

If Eliot felt desperate, it can reveal the truth that he is searching for an answer in
his life. Because searching for an answer is a direct result of feeling desperate, Eliots
search for an answer could be assumed to be present because of the desperateness he
exhibited in the tone of The Hollow Men. Just as one whose drownings desperateness for
an answer is seen in the flailing of their arms, so then would the desperateness of Eliots
tone mark a search for an answer out of a situation that he was in.
In looking at the time when The Hollow Men was written, the situation out of
which he was seeking an answer may be understood. The year of 1925 was the dated
composition of the poem, and being seven years after the First World War, it can be
postulated that the mass number of deaths in WWI could have been the biggest thing that
possibly could have made society desperate for an answer out of desperateness. Since
Eliot was an author, this longed-for, desire of society could have found a medium in the
The Hollow Men.
Not only can it be apparent that there was a search for an answer out of
desperateness in The Hollow Men, but the answer to this can be supposed to be God. The
answer can be assumed to be God because Eliot mentions God in quoting the Lords
Prayer in The Hollow Men, and because God could be viewed as the answer to the
societys desperateness after WWI.
Katherine Ebury suggests through history and through pointing out examples of
Eliots language that The Hollow Men has a scientific meaning. Nevertheless, even
though these prospects are promising, it can be seen that the most powerful meaning of
The Hollow Men can come from observing the tone. As one observes the morose tone he
or she realizes desperateness in them. Interestingly, this same tone can be seen in other

poems of Eliots and for this reason it may show how Eliot felt in his life outside of his
poems narration. When looking outside of the references Ebury suggested, it might be
seen that perhaps the strongest force in society at that time, WWI, shaped many
Americans into feeling desperate and that because Eliot was a member of society, that he
became desperate as well. As Eliot was affected individually through the same experience
of his society, the desperation seen in The Hollow Men could be nothing more than just
an example of an authors power to express the views of society. Because this
desperateness is no different from other desperate situations, it may be assumed that there
was a search for an answer out of the situation. Because it could have been a solution at
the time, and because it was expressed in The Hollow Men, God can fit to be this
solution. Tracking back to the beginning of the series of thought, the reader may realize
that this solution, God, came from realizing the tone of the poem and for this reason, it
may lead the reader to think that the strongest meaning of The Hollow Men is the answer
out of desperateness, God.

Works Cited
Ebury, Katherine. "'In this valley of dying stars': Eliot's cosmology." Journal of
Modern Literature 35.3 (2012): 139+. Academic OneFile. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.
Eliot, T.S. The Hollow Men. Poems. Retrieved from http://allpoetry.com/TheHollow-Men