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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

If you had to label the poem as anything, you would have to call it "free verse," because it doesn't have a regular meter or rhyme scheme. The poem is almost like a speech or a dramatic monologue d...

Speaker

The poem is a dramatic monologue of sorts, which means that the speaker is not just a stand-in for the poet. Instead, Eliot puts words in the mouths of the Hollow Men and allows them to explain the...

Setting

The Hollow Men live in a desert nether world that looks like it could be in outer space. Everything around them is bone dry. Everything, that is, except for the Acheron, a branch of the River Styx,...

Sound Check

The Hollow Men's description of their voice as being "As quiet and meaningless / As wind in dry grass" could apply to the sound of the poem as a whole, without the meaningless part. This poem is of...

What's Up With the Title?

T.S. Eliot had an unbelievable memory, and he read an amazing amount of books. He also had a habit of trying to guess where he had come up with lines and titles by remembering things he had read th...

Calling Card

Dante Alighieri. Greatest poet of all time? Some people think so, and Eliot is one of them. You'd be doing yourself a big favor if you read Canto 3 of Dante's Inferno after reading "The Hollow Men....

Tough-O-Meter

When reading this poem, you might find yourself asking, "Where are we? What's happening?" You might not realize that the Hollow Men are supposed to be dead people until your second or third read of...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

At one point in the poem, the Hollow Men appear ready to get their groove on. They are "trembling with tenderness" (49), but have no one with whom to be affectionate. Scarecrows don't make great pa...

Shout Outs

First epigraph: Joseph Conrad 's Heart of DarknessSecond epigraph: Charon from Greek mythLines 15-18: Canto 3 of Dante's InfernoLine 60: The River Acheron Lines 63-64: Heaven in Dante's ParadisoSec...
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