In the song “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles, there is a lonely, sad woman who dies and is readily forgotten as she has nobody to care about her. How many people do we see out on the street that will just become “another dead body?” Eleanor Rigby really puts this into perspective that there are lonely people in this world living their lives serving others without being acknowledged. Eleanor is waiting for someone, but she is scarred in her heart by her lonely life. Sadly enough, she is an afterthought even in her death, as Father McKenzie writes her sermon in his socks, late at night.
The theme of the song is that keeping the up the illusion isn’t always worth it. The literary devices demonstrating this theme are allegory, repetition, and imagery. An allegory is symbolic narrative details that can sometimes imply another meaning. There are many examples of this in the song. In the line, “Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been. Lives in a dream,” The Beatles display a good example of allegory. The church in the song is very symbolic for life and death for many reasons. There is a mention of a wedding in this line and in some cultures a wedding is known as the celebration of life, however in the end Eleanor Rigby dies, thus being the opposite of life, instead she represents death.
This allegory relates to the theme because it shows that Eleanor Rigby lives her life working in a church, attending weddings and working to bring life and happiness to others. She is living what everybody else considers the dream, but in reality she is a sad, lonely person. She keeps up the illusion of being happy and everyone believes her, however in the end she dies unremembered. Another representation of the theme is repetition. In the lines, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong? Ah, look at all the lonely people.
Ah, look at all the lonely people” The Beatles use the repetition of “lonely” to drive in the main message of the song. Saying that Eleanor Rigby is living the dream can be deceiving to listeners but by the repetition of “lonely” they make it clear that underneath the façade of grandeur, there is a bleak undertone. This is a fantastic example of use of repetition to convey the theme because The Beatles make the whole song an illusion except for the chorus in which “lonely” is continuously repeated and in the end Eleanor Rigby dies, proving without a doubt that the illusion wasn’t worth it. One of the most prominent literary devices in the poem is imagery.
The Imagery is used to show exactly how much of an illusion Eleanor is living. In the line, “Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door” It is very easy to imagine somebody literally keeping a head or face in some type of liquid in a jar to be put on when necessary. This line is actually not meant to be taken quite so literally. This face in the jar is probably the face that she puts on to look beautiful, the jar being the makeup jar from which the face comes. She disguises her sadness and her longing with the face by her window.
She doesn’t literally put on a mask or someone else’s face, but she puts on a face to fit society. This example of imagery fits the theme because Eleanor Rigby wears face so that no one can see the loneliness and emptiness that she feels. It is a false impression that she is giving to everyone that she sees, it is nothing but an illusion.
As Eleanor Rigby dies at the end of the song, it is clear that the illusion of happiness wasn’t worth keeping since nobody even remembered her. The very apparent theme in the song is loneliness. Eleanor Rigby was very lonely although she never let on and thinking she was well off and happy, nobody else ever thought to pity her or pay her attention. In the song, Father McKenzie wipes the dirt from burying Eleanor off of his hands.
Wiping the dirt from your hands is a phrase often used to illustrate that you are going to get rid of something and forget about it. It is clear that the minister just wants to forget about Eleanor and take care of his own problems, thinking she lived a good life, he is impartial. Through the use of allegory, repetition, and imagery The Beatles paint a mesmerizing tale of the false life a woman lives to keep up the illusion of happiness, all for naught.