First take the step as must all who hope to come to

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first take the step, as must all who hope to come to the beatific vision, from hollowness to emptiness. Eliot’s echoes of Dante in this passage require any critic of the poem to ask yet another question. ‘‘Why should ‘The Hollow Men’ apparently embody the same disapproving attitude toward Trimmers as one finds in the Commedia unless, as far as the poet is concerned, some positive value inheres in whatever it is that the Trimmers have refused?’’ If it is bad, or unfortunate, to be a Trim- mer or a Trimmer-like hollow man, then must he befortunate,andcertainlynotavaindreamer,who can attain what those undone souls cannot hope to possess. The ‘‘perpetual star’’ and the ‘‘Multifoliate rose’’ must symbolize, for Eliot as for Dante, not a vague, illusory dream of fulfillment, but something truly worth having. It seems unlikely that in this passage Eliot should have accepted the values Dante gives to one set of symbols (the Trimmers) without accepting those he attaches to the other (the eyes, the multifoliate rose). Nor does Professor Gillis’s argument that Eliot is careful not to repeat words except ‘‘invar- iably for a special effect’’ satisfactorily explain the single appearance in the poem of the word ‘‘empty.’’ The statement is, in the first place, highly questionable. One may point, for instance, to Eli- ot’s practice in ‘‘Ash Wednesday’’ of repeating words, phrases, images, often with variations that are slight but full of significance. Granted, these are ‘‘special effects’’; yet it is difficult to see why ‘‘The Hollow Men’’ should be denied the privilege of embodying similar special effects. The appear- ance of the word ‘‘hollow’’ at both the beginning and the end (reinforced by the word ‘‘stuffed’’ at the end) of Section I is, moreover, not the only occurrence of functional repetition in the poem. In Section II a similar effect is created by the haunting repetition of the phrase ‘‘no nearer.’’ One may raise a more direct objection, however, to the claim that Eliot meticulously avoids repetition wherever he can find an equally suitable synonym. The exam- ple of ‘‘taxi—car’’ from The Waste Land may not be called in as a proper analogy to ‘‘hollow— empty’’ in the later work. The choice between ‘‘car’’ and ‘‘taxi,’’ in the lines cited, while an impor- tant esthetic matter, is not crucial within the total context of the poem. Eliot’s good taste in substi- tuting ‘‘car’’ in the line in question is evident. Yet The Waste Land would have produced much the same effect as a work of art even if the author had followed Ezra Pound’s advice on this minor point. In reading ‘‘The Hollow Men,’’ on the other hand, understanding of the relationship between the words ‘‘hollow’’ and ‘‘empty’’ is essential. We agree with Professor Gillis upon Eliot’s exquisite sense of words as well as his skill at repetition,

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