The Hollow Men, Headpeice Filled with Meaning

In: English and Literature

Submitted By hurgcat
Words 1626
Pages 7
Grant Seamster
3/20/12
Walter Lowe
The Hollow Men: Headpiece Filled with Meaning Out of madness springs The Hollow Men, one of T.S. Eliot’s critically acclaimed poetic masterpieces. This poem has been analyzed over and over, and is so full of references to texts that it can be confusing to find a launching point. Just like most things in life, the beginning is a good start. T.S. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri and attended Harvard, and went overseas to England for graduate school. It was here that he settled down, becoming a banker, and more importantly, writing poetry (Nobelprize.org). In the early and mid-1920’s, Eliot suffered from numerous nervous breakdowns, and during one of these breakdowns in 1925 the poem The Hollow Men was written. Using the archetypal literary school of criticism we will magnify the archetypes of hopelessness, desperation, misery, and despair throughout the work. The archetypal school of literary criticism determines a text’s meaning using cultural and psychological myths. Commonly used symbols such as crucifixion or the snake serve as a marker to delve deeper into the reading. Carl Jung, whose theory of a “collective unconscious”, has been accredited with founding this school of literary criticism. This Jungian theory claims literature imitates the “dream of humanity”, not life. Archetypal criticism splinters from the Formalist or New Criticism schools of literary criticism by approaching the work in the context it is read in, instead of holding it aloof from other texts. Archetypal images, sounds, and symbols are used in all areas of the humanities and are tied to our fundamental thinking patterns (Delahoyde). Before the first line of the poem, the line “A penny for the Old Guy” (Eliot 79), is the first reference to Guy Fawkes Day, the English holiday where a celebration is held every 5th of November due to the thwarting…...

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