World At War
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.”
(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
“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.
(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
 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
Part 3: Setting—Comparison between two vacant
Part 4: Amplification of “Eyes” and “Sightless” and
God as Star
Part 5: Parody of children’s rhyme and Sermon
Structure of final lines
In some ways, Eliot is delivering a sermon on the state of
 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
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
He wonders if—like the falconer who can’t control his
falcon—humankind is spinning out of control and into
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
 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
Visualizing Central 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
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
 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
 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
 Survivor Guilt
 Remains of the War
 Skepticism about Media
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?