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The Hollow Men

The Hollow Men

by T.S. Eliot

Eyes

Symbol Analysis

Have you ever met someone who was completely afraid to look you in the eye? The Hollow Men are like that. They fear the judgmental glare of the people from "death's dream kingdom," but the eyes of these heavenly souls might just be their only hope for salvation. The eyes see the Hollow Men for the empty creatures they really are.

  • Line 14: "Those who have crossed with direct eyes" alludes to that Ancient Greek myth that souls must cross the River Styx when a person dies. The people with "direct eyes" are those who see God and truth – the ones destined for Heaven.
  • Line 19: These guys are cowards. Even in dreams, they are too afraid to make eye contact. "Eyes" could also be a synecdoche that refers to heavenly souls by one part of their body, the part relating to vision.
  • Lines 22-23: The eyes are linked metaphorically to rays of "sunlight on a broken column."
  • Lines 61-62: The sightlessness of the Hollow Men is a symbol for their moral blindness and their inability to see the truth of their own nature.
  • Lines 63-64: The eyes turn into a "perpetual" or eternal star. The eyes and the star are linked through their connection with Heaven.

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