What are the religious themes of "The Hippopotamus" by T. S. Eliot?It seems like he believes the instution of religion is solid until the last line when he uses "miasmal mist". That confused me and...

What are the religious themes of "The Hippopotamus" by T. S. Eliot?

It seems like he believes the instution of religion is solid until the last line when he uses "miasmal mist". That confused me and made me think he doesn't believe in organized religion.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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A starting point for reading “The Hippopotamus” is the biographical fact that T. S. Eliot was a devout member of the Church of England (also called the Anglican Church). This is a Protestant church, which separated from the Church of Rome (Roman Catholic Church) under Henry VIII. Thus the attack on the “True Church” can be read as an attack on the Roman Church, of which Article XIX of the Church of England states: “As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.” More importantly, the visible church, in Christian (and especially Protestant) theology is an human institution and thus, like all human creations fallible and sinful. Although individuals can be saved, the church as a whole is merely an imperfect image of human striving towards salvation; in the words of Article XXVI: “in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments”.

An important point about the hippopotamus is that as an innocent creature he did not participate in Original Sin.

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