AD's English Literature : A Few Short Questions From T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Few Short Questions From T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men"

 Q. What is the source of the title The Hollow Men?
Ans. For this poem, T.S. Eliot claimed to have combined the title of a poem by Rudyard Kipling (of The Jungle Book fame), "The Broken Men," with the title of story by a writer named William Morris, "The Hollow Land." He claimed, "I combined the two”.

Q. What is the source of the sub- title The Hollow Men?
Ans.  An important connection  of Mistah Kurtz—he dead might be Marlow 's description of the character Kurtz in Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness as "hollow at the core” announcing Kurtz's death.

Q. Who are the Hollow Men as told in the verse?
Ans.  The Hollow Men are the modern men. Their hollowness is a sign that they lack a soul and other essential qualities of being human. They are living dead with out any spiritual and aesthetic values.  They are filled with straw like one of the effigies and exist in a state that is less than fully real.

Q.Briefly comment on the Second Epigraph: "A penny for the guy”.
Ans. "A penny for the guy," is what kids in England say on Guy Fawkes Day when begging for money to buy fireworks to burn or blow up their straw effigies of Guy Fawkes. This tradition mimics Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up Parliament back in the day. These effigies were like dolls filled with straw or another kind of stuffing.

Q. “ Let me also wear       Such deliberate disguises      Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves      In a field       Behaving as the wind behaves      No nearer— “   Bring out the scarecrow imagery in the poem.
Ans: These lines are the clearest expression of the scarecrow-like features of The Hollow Men. They wear ragged clothes and stand in a field, supported by wooden poles or "crossed staves." Spiritual and aesthetic bankruptcy of modern men and their aimless behavior is compared using simile to the aimless motions of the wind. 

Q. “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”..     Bring out imagery of dryness in the poem.
Ans.The dryness of the nature establishes that the Hollow Men live in a dry and barren world. The speakers compare their "dried voices" to the "quiet" and "meaningless" sound of "wind in dry grass." Also using simile, they compare their voices to the sound of rats walking across broken glass in a "dry cellar."

Q. Bring out the Images of broken objects as depicted in the phrases: ‘broken glasses, ‘broken column’,’ broken stone’, ‘broken jaw’.
Ans. Everything around the Hollow Men is broken – nothing is complete. We wouldn't want to lend anything valuable to the Hollow Men or it would probably come back broken. Images of broken objects symbolize the fragmented spiritual condition of the Hollow Men.

Q. “Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom”  . … What is ‘death's dream kingdom’?
Ans.   "Death's dream kingdom" probably refers to Heaven, which the Hollow Men can only "dream" about and never experience. Or maybe they think Heaven is like a pleasant dream.

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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

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