John Lennon and Paul McCartney's Eleanor Rigby


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John Lennon and Paul McCartney's Eleanor Rigby


Loneliness is a reoccurring theme in all types of literature. “Eleanor Rigby,'; by John Lennon and Paul McCartney is a fine example of the theme of loneliness in poetry. The two characters in "Eleanor Rigby" are compared by their loneliness through the extensive use of symbols.

     The poem begins with the refrain, "Ah, look at all the lonely people." The same refrain is used to end the poem, making a complete circle. This creates, for the reader, a sense of loneliness about the poem as a whole. In the second stanza, Eleanor is introduced as a woman who cannot face the world as her self. She wears the “face that she keeps in a jar by the door.'; Literally this can be interpreted as makeup, but symbolically she is hiding her self.

     The third stanza is a second and different refrain. This refrain occurs every other stanza. It acts as a divider between the stanzas dealing with a specific character. In the fourth stanza, Father McKenzie is introduced to the reader. He is conveyed as a materialistic man whose life has no meaning. Line fourteen literally tells the reader that no one will hear his sermon. The Father has no point to his life if he reaches no one through his sermons. Father McKenzie is “darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there,'; which implies he is ashamed. He tries to hide not only the fact that he cannot afford new socks, but he is also hiding his self just as Eleanor did.

     The seventh stanza brings the two characters together. They are both brought together for Eleanor’s funeral because Father McKenzie is reading her eulogy, but they are brought together in a different way that is more important to the theme. The stanza ends as Father McKenzie comes to a realization that his life is pointless, and Eleanor dies without a husband.

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Both tried their hardest to hide themselves but neither gained anything from it.

     The poem ends right where it began, as do the characters. Neither have anything to show for their troubles and no one, or no thing, to fill their loneliness. There are too many lonely people in the world, but as Paul McCartney and John Lennon have shown us, they have no one to blame but themselves.


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