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The Hollow Men If Edgar Allen Poes Mask of the Red Death had been set anywhere other than in 1300s England the story would have lost its theme How would Poe have relayed the idea that you can not cheat death if the story was not set during the plague In the same way Eliot could not have set The Hollow Men any where other than in different kingdoms of death and an English church The hollow men are the people praying in the church They are empty inside and therefore can not travel to any of deaths kingdoms The idea that the hollow men are the absence of life and will move on to other kingdoms can only be effectively shown through the different kingdoms and the people in them Elliot uses the setting so that it correlates with the theme even before the first stanza starts Eliot writes A penny for the Old Guy1 This sentence is important because it gives reference to a holiday in England that children make a game out of In the same way parishioners dont treat church as something important The reference is to the cry of English children soliciting money for fireworks to commemorate Guy Fawkes day November 5 which commemorates the gunpowder plot of 1605 in which Guy Fawkes and other conspirators planned to blow up both houses of Parliament On this day which celebrates the failure of the explosion the likes of Fawkes are burned in effigy and mock explosions using fireworks are produced The relation of this custom to the poem suggests another inference as the children create a game of Guy Fawkes so do we make a game out of religion This inference could not be made if the environment that Eliot chose for The Hollow Men was not in England Without the children playing the game because of the holiday the association would not be made with making a
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