How does "The Hollow Men" by T. S. Eliot reflect the reality of humanity in the early twentieth century, and is the meaning of the poem still applicable to the twenty-first century?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Hollow Men" emerged out of the aftermath of World War I. It can be seen as a paradigm example of modernism in that it reflects a cultural environment in which all the old certainties have been destroyed. Deprived of all the old moral, aesthetic, and political certainties by this cataclysmic conflict, Western humanity has been hollowed out, no longer able to draw on centuries of cultural achievement for its values and principles.

The contemporary relevance of the poem lies in the fact that, in the current climate, many of the certainties that formed the bedrock of Western civilization during the Cold War appear to be under serious threat. In this era of fake news and populism, the values of liberal democracy, the rule of law, and internationalism are under sustained assault from a variety of sources. Once again, Western humanity finds itself hollowed out, deprived of all the old certainties by massive upheaval (in this case the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath, whose damaging...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 716 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on