Hollow Men Essay, Research Paper
n T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot contrasts his straw-filled hollow men with the “lost violent souls” of Mr. Kurtz and Guy Fawkes. Mr. Kurtz is a
character in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. T.S. Eliot is saying that it is better to have met death and to have strong opinions than to sit idly and remain
stagnant. Both Eliot and Conrad are portraying the general society to be decaying.
The hollow mean are in a state of stagnation. They can neither choose life nor death and are therefore damned to a life where they will waste away to nothing. The
hollow men are said to live in a gray, bleak wasteland full of cactus. This idea contrasts with Conrad’s use of symbolism in Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad
portrays images of stark white and black. Joseph Conrad is saying that there were only extremes being the civilized and the uncivilized. Mr. Kurtz was trying to be a
go-between for the civilized and the uncivilized societies of England and Africa. Mr. Kurtz became depressed and essentially devolved. In this sense, Conrad is
saying that there is no middle road. In The Hollow Men, the straw men are unable to choose which direction they will take and wait for a sign.
The settings for the two works is different as well. In Heart of Darkness the setting is the Congo. The surroundings are lush overgrowth of trees and other plants.
There is water everywhere, especially depicted by the river. In The Hollow Men, the setting is a bleak desert full of only scarecrows and cactus.
There are references to eyes in both works. The direct eyes are said to be guide. Mr. Kurtz had burning eyes which symbolized how the horror of his actions
eventually killed him. In The Hollow Men, the eyes are eyes of decision and direction that the straw men lack and do not wish to see.
Joseph Conrad portrays that there is evil inherent in everybody. The Manager was the epitomy of evil and yet he survived. Mr. Kurtz became savage. T.S. Eliot says
that it is better to be one of these characters than to be a straw man who believes that “this is they way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper.”