World At War MODERN THEMES FOR A MODERN AGE T.S. Eliot— “The Hollow Men” When Eliot wrote “The Hollow Men,” he believed humanity was suffering from a loss of will and faith The poem reflects this point of view—portraying a world without religion or promise of salvation Eliot does not dismiss faith but rather portrays a struggle with, for, against faith—using numerous allusions, imagery, and characterization to create the world of “The Hollow Men.” Allusions (references to literature, people and events) “Mistah Kurtz—he dead.” The first line after the title of the poem is an allusion, or reference, to Joseph Conrad’s famous short novel Heart of Darkness. Kurtz journeys to the center of Africa and rapidly loses his mind, falling into intense paranoia. Kurtz’s final words, when he realizes that evil is at the very heart of his life: “The horror! The horror!” The Gunpowder Plot-Guy Fawkes Rebels Against Tyranny of the Monarchy “We are the stuffed men” “A penny for the Old Guy” Eliot continues the story of Guy The second line in the poem alludes to one of the most notorious incidents in British History, the Gunpowder Plot. In 1605, Guy Fawkes, a soldier, was chosen to light the fuse that would ignite barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of Parliament. King James I, and others, would die. The plot failed. Fawkes was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered Fawkes by alluding to how the event is remembered. Every year on November 5, huge bonfires are set all over England. Straw-filled effigies of Fawkes called a “guy” are burned. These are the “stuffed men” alluded to in the poem. Allusions (References to Other Works, People or Events) Dante’s The Divine Comedy Paradiso—those will direct (holy) eyes can cross to Paradise Dante used the symbol of the star to represent God Reference to the river, Acheron, which the damned must cross to enter the land of the dead in Inferno Dante describes Paradise as a rose of many leaves Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “Between the acting of a dreadful thing/And the first motion, all the interim is/Like a phantasma or a hideous dream” (2.1.63-65) Plato’s Essence and Descent Plato defined “the essence” as the unattainable ideal” “The descent” as the imperfect expression in material or physical reality Understanding the Parts Part 1: Characterization of the “Hollow Men” and Paradoxes (apparent contradictions that are true) Part 2: Death’s Dream Kingdom/Twilight Kingdom/Paradise vs. the imagery of the “real world.” Part 3: Setting—Comparison between two vacant landscapes Part 4: Amplification of “Eyes” and “Sightless” and God as Star Part 5: Parody of children’s rhyme and Sermon Structure of final lines Reflection In some ways, Eliot is delivering a sermon on the state of humanity. How would you describe humanity today? Does your view match Eliot’s vision, or is yours less bleak? William Butler Yeats “The Second Coming” addresses Yeats’s personal view of history. Yeats saw human history as cyclical. Each cycle, known as a gyre, begins in a rational state and then dissolves into chaos and irrationality. The poem repeats a question that Yeats asks in his book, A Vision, “What if the irrational returns?” Yeats wrote this poem in 1921, after the horrors unleashed by WWI and by the Russian Revolution of 1917. He wonders if—like the falconer who can’t control his falcon—humankind is spinning out of control and into chaos. Reading Focus Opening Stanza: What words and phrases describe the disorder and what do they suggest about civilization? Second Stanza: How does Yeats’ use allusions to religion and the ancient world to create the “desert” of human condition? Theme: In the final lines, Yeats asks a rhetorical question, one that implies an answer: What is the question and what does he imply Irony: How is “The Second Coming” an example of situational irony (what is expected and what actually happens? Visualizing Central IDEAS Ideas Like the falcon and the falconer, people can’t control events happening around them The world is in a state of chaos during times of war. War is bloody and violent and destroys innocence There is no hope of future salvation, because the Second Coming won’t be the return of Christ but of some awful beast Images Identify images in the poem that support the ideas. If you have to name one dominant emotion expressed by the speaker of the poem, what would it be? Wisława Szymborska When Wisława Szymborska was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1996, few people outside her native Poland had heard of her, but the resulting interest in Szymborska and her work has finally introduced her poetry to the world. She has been acclaimed for her ability to turn philosophical musings about subjects such as war, love, and suffering into poems that are complex yet clear. Szymborska’s accessible style may be a response to the chaos and spiritual darkness she, as a twentieth-century Pole, has witnessed. Perspectives on War Ideas Survivor Guilt Remains of the War Skepticism about Media Images Identify images in the poem that support the ideas. If you have to name one dominant emotion expressed by the speaker of the poem, what would it be?