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The Great Gatsby And The Hollow Men Essay, Research Paper

The Great Gatsby has been one of the classic novels of the twentieth century. It creates a unique society that makes the story such a masterpiece. Another magnificent work that relates to The Great Gatsby is T.S. Eliot s The Hollow Man. The lines in the poem portray the story so vividly that it should have been an epigraph for the novel. The poem s references to hollow and stuffed men, can describe different characters in The Great Gatsby. The hollowness of men represents ruthless barbarians with no respect for humans and no understanding of love. However, the stuffed men seem to be educated, wealthy, and respectful. The differences in these types of men can be seen through the events of the novel. Another aspect of the poem that represents the novel is the idea of the paralyzed force. This force symbolizes freedom and uniqueness. It also is captivating and serves as authority. So, the similarities between The Great Gatsby and The Hollow Men remarkably show the hollow and stuffed characteristic of the people in Gatsby s secret society.

The first similarity between the two pieces of work is the hollowness in mankind referred to by the poem. In the novel there are two main characters that depict such hollowness. The antagonistic character of Tom Buchanan represents the ruthless and careless American whose dream is to use women and acquire money. In addition he has no respect towards others which creates pain for people around him. An example of this is when Myrtle repeatedly uttered his wife s name which was Daisy. Tom took this as an insult and viciously punched her in the nose. He never took into consideration that hitting a women is uncivilized. Another quality he has is to flaunt his wealth in other peoples faces. This can be seen when he takes Nick around his colossal house. Tom wants others to feel jealous of his riches, when he is actually jealous of the others around him. Thus revealing his emptiness of heart and spirit. His hypocritical remarks show his hollowness towards other. During the climatic scene in the plaza hotel he said I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to you wife.(137) He doesn t take into account that he has been doing the same thing with Myrtle and plenty of other ladies. Another hollow character in the novel is Daisy. Daisy portrays the conceited blonde woman who relies on wealth and good appearance to survive. Thus, she marries Tom and then later on wants to marry Gatsby due to his riches and appeal. However, she is also revolting and doesn t understand the concept of love. At one point in the novel she gets frustrated and says to Jay Oh you want too much, I love you now, isn t that enough?(139) This shows the emptiness in her heart and the depression of her life. Daisy really has a low self-esteem and even with her possessions, she is still a disheartened lady with no motive in her life. In addition, Daisy s hollow character eventually leads to her mental break-down and ultimately conveys her love to Tom. This occurs when she runs over Myrtle and kills her without even looking back. Daisy then destroys Jay s love and never acknowledges his death.

Another similarity between the works is the idea of the stuffed men mentioned in the poem. There are two characters in the novel that carry this trait. Jay Gatsby s classy demeanor and restrained behavior show what good quality he is made of. Another trait he carries is his love for others such as Daisy and Nick. Even though he loves them as stepping stones to reach his goals, he has the decency to respect their goals in life. His persona and character is best summed up by Nick in the beginning of the novel. He stated: There was something gorgeous about him that heightened the sensitivities to the promises of life.(6) Another stuffed character is George Wilson. Even though he committed suicide and had a depressed life, he still had a rich character that made him a godly figure. He also tried to make his relationship with Myrtle survive, however the love between them had vanished over a period of time. So, he used his authority over her and made her stay in her room. He said She s going to stay there till the day after tomorrow and then we re going to move away.(143) Nevertheless, his saintly portrayal created a stuffed persona that eventually lead to his death. He decided that he was too good for this world after uncovering its ugliness.

The last similarity between the works is the paralyzed force revealed in the poem. Throughout the novel there were two main symbols that stood out. First there was the Dr. T.J. Ekleburg billboard. This billboard had a man described to have enormous yellow spectacles and unique eyes. This symbolizes the wealth and coolness of his authority. This billboard represents the paralyzed force where he is watching every move someone makes but he can do nothing to stop the immorality within his domain. Thus, attracted by this object, George Wilson determines the gentleman to be a god that he can idolize. Another symbol of the paralyzed force is a man by the name of Owl Eyes. He was described as a stout, middle-aged man with enormous owl-eyed spectacles.(49) Again, this mans traits also show the saintly view he has toward the aspects of life. Nick and Jordan both seem to be amazed at his awkward view of the library books. Although he was drunk, Owl Eyes seemed to be in charge of the conversation. Also, Owl Eyes was one of the few honorable people who attended Gatsby s funeral. He had an admiration toward Gatsby and cherished his view toward life.

So, The Hollow Man has many parallels that make it a perfect epigraph for The Great Gatsby. The three key aspects of the poem that relate it to The Great Gatsby were the hollow men, the stuffed men, and the paralyzed force. All three depict the society Gatsby lived in and the life he had to go through. The hollow and stuffed men showed the two types of people in Gatsby s society. The hollow men contain no inner spirit or love toward one another. However, the stuffed men consisted of bravery, self-control, and love. They were Tom, Daisy, Jay, and George, respectively. The poem categorizes where people fit in society. The final parallel is the paralyzed force including Owl Eyes and the billboard. Both had a frozen outlook on life and someone to look up to. In conclusion, Fitzgerald and Eliot created classics that will be analyzed for many years to come. However, no one will be able to make an epigraph for The Great Gatsby better than Eliot s The Hollow Man.


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