Eleanor Rigby

Eleanor Rigby

[Verse 1]
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window
Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

The first lonely person is Eleanor Rigby, a woman who “lives in a dream”, an imaginary world , maybe created  to overcome her  loneliness. She goes into a church after  wedding and grabs the rice, either  to throw pretending she’s getting married, or to take part, somehow, in the ceremony.

When she goes home, she sits by the window and smiles hoping to grab someone’s attention

The “face kept in a jar” is makeup. She makes up her face in the hope she’ ll meet someone – despite her loneliness.  Otherwise she feels mortified and lacks confidence so she puts on a smile when she meets people because she doesn’t want them to know  she’s suffering.  Her face  in a jar may also  suggest that, when  she is alone,  inside her house, she is faceless, she  is nothing

There is also a  play on the word ajar: when a door is ajar, it means it is open, so it could imply that her door is always open to people, but they never come into her house or her  life.

[Verse 2]
Father McKenzie
Writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working
Darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

Father McKenzie is the other character, a lonely person forced to write church services that nobody will come to listen to , and this for a number of reasons: . they don’t pay attention to his words, they are unable to really understand  or they don’t come at all.

Father McKenzie is “darning his socks”, a very humble task,  because there is no one else who can do that for him. This represents his  utter isolation and lack of companionship. The following  question  means that while he bothers himself with darning his socks, out of necessity,  nobody will notice if  they are darned or not,:  so why does he care?

[Verse 3]
Eleanor Rigby died in the church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt
From his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

This last verse is full of sad irony: these two lonely people could have been companions, but they only meet at Eleanor’s funeral. Even if they live in a church community, they have found  no  way to connect. Their destiny has been  living their entire lives alone and apart until one of them has  buried the other. This is a  tragic ending  full of  despair: Eleanor dies in church, which should be a comfort, and ‘was buried along with her name.’. What’s more, “nobody came” to her funeral. Her death  turns into the death of hope itself. No one can be saved

[Chorus]
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?

 

The simple narrative conveys feelings of loss,  isolation, alienation, but  avoids sentimentality. The questions posed by the songs are not rhetorical and  are unanswerable. Any response is inadequate .

 

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