p 57 of the Eliot packet…
The Hollow Men (1925) by T.S. Eliot seems to be a very spacey and ambiguous comment on the human condition. The first two lines of the poem are epigraphs: “Mistah Kurtz – he dead” and “A penny for the Old Guy”. Since I am familiar with only the first: Eliot chose Kurtz due to the fact that he is a “hollow” being, representing the empty nature of man, consumed by the brutishness of the jungle.
The first stanza begins with “We are the hollow men, / We are the stuffed men.”. Although this a contradiction, we learned that they are stuffed with straw, an insignificant filler absent any real worth. Specifically the head is stuffed with straw, representing the mind being filled with absurd ideas and thoughts. They lean together and their “dried voices” whisper together, showing the conformity of man, and if everyone acts the same then there is no uniqueness or free spirit.
In part IV it begins by saying the hollow men have “no eyes here”, showing a lack of hope – of soullessness. However, in the next stanza, there is hope in the eyes “reappear[ing]/as a perpetual star” – and that is the only hope.
In conclusion, Eliot is describing the hopeless men, who are empty and lacking anything real in almost a dazed depression. Only until there is only a hint of hope to strive for, the hollow men conform together in a meaningless existence.