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The Hollow Men

The Hollow Men


by T.S. Eliot

The Hollow Men Dissatisfaction Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #1

Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! (lines 3-4)

The Hollow Men have the same problem as the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: they have straw for brains. Because they lack intelligence (or at least the kind of intelligence that matters in the spiritual world), they also lack the ability to fully understand their condition. They can only cry out "Alas!" to express a general dissatisfaction.

Quote #2

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. (lines 45-51)

The Hollow Men's dissatisfaction expresses itself as curiosity about whether things are just as bad in Heaven. Specifically, they Hollow Men have natural feelings of love and "tenderness" but can't act on them.

Quote #3

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river (lines 57-60)

In addition to missing out on the joys of love, the Hollow Men do not have a true community. They "grope together" on the river so as not to be alone, but they don't even talk to one another. As self-interested individuals, they have no concern for others.

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