Notes for "The Hollow Men"
T. S. Eliot
"The Hollow Men"
The term "hollow men" comes from Heart of Darkness, along with the saying "MISTAH KURTZ -- HE DEAD."
Hollow man means being spiritually and morally empty. There are no values, making life meaningless. "Lost violent souls", means lost as being hollow and not evil.
In line 46 "In death's other kingdoms", for the author the world is known by death and everyone is alone in this world. Also, all of the religions have lost their meaning and their place on earth.
Line 51, "Form prayers to broken stone", means all of the religion have lost their meaning. In line 51, "stones" are idles or monuments to the religions of the past that have been broken. Religion has lost its place and are replace by stone. However, the stones are broken.
Starting with line 72, Eliot says that there are shadows between ideas and reality and shadows between motion and action. Conception is when two people conceive a baby. Creation is the birth of a baby to reality, to the world. There is also a shadow between the emotion we have and the response. The Great Depression and capitalism came between man and reproduction. People were too poor to have babies. People delayed marriage and having children. Only at the end of World War II in 1945 did good economic times in America and the return of the soldiers lead to many marriages and to the "baby boom." Eliot relates economic production to personal reproduction. People who can't afford babies don't have them.
Eliot's last lines are probably some of his most famous.