Eliot, Thomas Stearns - The Hollow Men
People are caged by masks that completely limit the possibility to live according to new choices. In Italian Literature, Pirandello thinks that masks are useful but the truth is a continuous flow of time and experiences, so everybody has to develop, in order to change and find an identity thanks to choices. But the problem is that the most of people adapt to the one they receive from education or from influences of the environment, because this is more convenient.
We are in a period of transition in which people are confused and have to cope with the collapse of fixed structures, intact in the literature of of the first years of the 1900 the typical characters are antiheroes or men without qualities. For example, "La coscienza di Zeno" by Italo Svevo deals with a weak man, who can't even decide to stop smoking: Zeno, like the Hollow Men, understands that he never chose, he always adapted to what other people wanted him to be or he did the opposite, trying to escape from limitations, but this is not choosing, this is slavery as well.
The Hollow Men are half alive and half paralyzed, "shape without form", an undistinguished group of men who are similar to puppets, given that they don't live, they just try to survive. Dictatorship creates a mass of unidentified people and establishes itself when people are confused, especially in a period of transition in which they prefer someone else to make decisions for them, who welcome a strong power, hoping that it will guide them. It's a period of weakness, they want dictatorship to replace them in individual minds: in "1984" by George Orwell the party replaces individual choices.