The Hollownes of Society

In the 1920’s the world of literature and poetry produced many great works ranging from the Great Gatsby to T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men”. The poem itself packs a dense message and contains lots of imagery that further explain Eliot’s viewpoint on his society. He writes about the deteriorating moral fabric of the people of that time because of the dwindling importance of religion and traditional values. In Eliot’s eyes, people had left themselves without a solid foundation to live on and by; effectively becoming ‘hollow men’. In the poem, the reference to eyes it repeated. In the beginning, he speaks of eyes representing something to be wary of, saying “Those who have crossed/ With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom” remember the hollowness of men. He continues to say the “Eyes I dare not meet in dreams/ In death’s dream kingdom”. However by the end of poem, the eyes turn into something hopeful. Eliot describes as “The eyes reappear/ As the perpetual star” and they bring “The hope only/ Of empty men”. The eyes described in the beginning could be a connection to life at that time being immoral then peoples after-death transcendence could be the hope he wrote about.

The other famous work from that era is The Great Gatsby written by Fitzgerald. In it he portrays his characters as shallow, selfish, and money orientated. They were as Eliot describes “hollow”. Both authors seemed ashamed of the society surrounding them, the immoral code everyone lived by. While in Eliot’s piece, he is transparent about his attitude towards the people around him, Fitzgerald’s novel has a more underlying tone of disgust. In Gatsby, the characters all seem to be living luxurious lives with no cares, which may seem like a good thing; but it’s not. They are “hollow” people that only care for themselves and then hide behind their money. Both authors portrayed a shallow society; Eliot did it by directly writing about the hollowness of men, Fitzgerald by the ridiculous lives of his characters. Either way, both authors did not seem very fond of that era and what it brought out in people.


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