My Interpretation And Analysis Of The Hollow Men By T.S.Eliot


In this article, I will discuss my interpretation of “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot. The poem goes as follows:

The Hollow Men
T. S. Eliot
Mistah Kurtz—he dead.
      A penny for the Old Guy
      I
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
      II
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.
Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—
Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom
      III
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.
      IV
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
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.
      V
Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
                                For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
                                Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
                                For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.


























This poem written by T.S. Eliot is considered a free verse due to the fact that this poem lacks set meters and patterned rhyme scheme where the poem consists of five section; each section looks kind of a whole poem.

At first, the speaker turns out to be a group of men. They say that they are empty and they are stuffed at the same time. When I first read these two lines, I remembered the proverb that says” appearances are deceptive “.

The weird thing here is that they say that they are hollow and stuffed at the same time which in my opinion seems to be as a confession or a regret of who they are. Then they say that they are standing in a raw where they seem to be strong since they are together but they are actually not; notice the use of the word (alas) indicating the state of sadness they are in.

When a group of men stand together and say something, their voice will be loud and steady, but here even though they are standing together their voice is a whisper and cannot be heard. So what’s the point of standing together? Even the whisper is meaningless. Then the poet gives us two incredibly beautiful images.

The first one is likening the effectiveness of their voice to the effectiveness of the wind towards the dry grass. The other one which is more beautiful and I don’t really know how T.S. Eliot thought of it is when rats don’t get hurt by walking over a broken glass due to the smallness of their feet like their voice that doesn’t affect anything or is not heard and understandable at all.

Right after, the speakers describe themselves as a shape without a form and that cannot happen because the shape is shape due to the existence of the form and it applies to the other: shade without color, paralyzed force, and gesture without motion.

My point is the speaker is trying to tell us that everything looks like a thing, but it is not. When he says” deliberate disguises”, the word disguise means changing someone appearance so people no longer recognize him or her.

My argument is that the word disguise has the idea of doing something deliberately; however, the poet adds the word deliberate strengthening the idea of deceptiveness in the poem or the emptiness and the hollowness of the men or let me say the so-called men.

The poem is full of words and lines that support the idea of emptiness; for example, when he says” the supplication of a dead man’s hand” a beautiful image here reflecting how sad, how broken, and how unsatisfied he is; it serves a deep meaning when someone whose hand is dead is praying. How his supplication is supposed to be? A very beautiful image here.

Another interesting thing is that the last section is different, important, and mind-blowing. First thing is the italicized font of the lines reflecting development in the industrial revolution and the printing techniques. Also, it reflects the idea of circularity when repeating “round the prickly pear” many times. Finally, I really loved this and till now I cannot imagine how the poet thought of that when he wrote “for thine is… life is… for thine is the”.

It touches for the deepest; it really moved me and touched me form the deepest of my heart. Dram is involved in these three lines where the speaker dies speaking but most importantly not delivering all the message he wants to say; Subhan Allah. Form Islamic perspective, when I read this or let me say when I visualize these lines, no way to read them but to visualize, I remembered that everyone can die at any moment, so we should be ready to die; we have to be good people all the times. And the most interesting thing in this poem is how it ends: not with a bang but a whimper.

The speaker seems to be dead and we have a new speaker here which is not important. The important thing is why would the world ends by feeling the pain not suddenly; not sure what he meant by this or what is it for? But this line reminds me of a funny story when I was a child: in 2008 war, I used to put my hands on my ears every time I hear a sound because I was scared to death. Once my only elder brother asked me why you do this? I told him because I’m afraid of dying and being bombed by F16, so he told me when you hear the sound of bombing, it means you still alive and when you don’t hear it, it means you are dead and don’t be afraid because you will never feel the pain, and that helped me a lot. Finally, I loved this poem regardless of its hugeness.



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