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The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1785 words Published: 9th May 2017

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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S Eliot is a poem that is said to have been written over the days he was in Harvard in 1910. Despite the time of its composition, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock has a proof of purely modernist English as compared to the style used by such other great writers as Shakespeare. In the poem, Eliot deals with extremely personal subject-matter using a fragmentized, indirect, equivocal and ironic style. Eliot does this in a way that gives a picture of detachment as well as complete objectiveness. Additionally, Eliot uses a unique style in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock which instantaneously sets the scenes and the proceedings in the protagonist’s psyche. References to mythos, to other acculturations and to classical lit on occasion point contrasts, on occasion, connections between the current times and the past.

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Despite its title that suggests episodes of romance, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is neither romantic in style nor content. For instance the protagonist and speaker is a mock-hero; he is a failure withdrawn from his time and home, from world and god, from people, and from the sources of ingenuity and contentment within himself. The protagonist in this poem is engaged in an unrewarding exploration for a self and a fate. In short, there is a sense of loss of interaction between sentient and insentient, body and spirit. Normally when there is such a disconnection the body turns out to be a mere automaton.

Further, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock manifests that in such circumstances, the surrounding appears to comprise of not the individuals but of fragmented minutes of individuals in terms of distinct faces, arms, clothes, eyes, etc. As one reads through the poem, J. Alfred’s flow of consciousness, forth and back, right and left are heard as they trigger psychological associations. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock depicts the torment of inadequateness, an excruciation developing less from the realness of Prufrock’s shortfall than his consciousness therefrom. The title The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is an illumination portrait- a surname implicative of prunes, prudes, and prisms, with a sense of prissiness; a forename uncommon among the Boston Brahmans, preceded by an initial ‘J. Alfred’ instead of the usual ‘Alfred J’. This name format probably indicates that Alfred is someone different from the rest in his surroundings.

The “Love Song” part of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock title is ironic because the eponymous character stands detached, diffident, anti-epic, middle-aged, and not romantic. Because of Prufrock’s age, a reader is inclined to thinking that Prufrock is Eliot, the composer; Eliot aged 27 years when The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was first printed. “Let us go then, you and I…” can be interpreted as a pair of distinct personalities of Prufrock- one personality urges Prufrock to start participating in events, while the other personality makes Prufrock to fear participation and rejection. But then again, “… you” could be used to refer to the reader of this poem.

Envisions of participation and accomplishment contrast to envisions of paralysis and fear; this is what a reader experiences in the poem in relation to Prufrock’s personality. Prufrock is an educated and highly level-headed man who introduces his soliloquy with a quote from Dante’s Inferno. While traveling through hell, Dante meets Guido da Montefeltro, who is enveloped in flame and enduring perpetual torment for transgresses he did on earth. Prufrock concedes his sins on the presumption that Dante, an associate captive of hell, cannot go back to the earth with the condemning information he is listening to, and slander Guido’s reputation. And so Prufrock’s “song” can be equaled to a concession of a soul in agony, however Prufrock’s transgresses are faults of avoidance and failure to act instead of commission. All this gives the reader a thought that if a miss self-assertiveness, inadequateness, and reluctance of are mortal sins, Prufrock is justified to live in Hell amidst others who can neither do good nor evil. The author portrays such as person as a source of false guidance.

The protagonist accepts that he is none, not even “No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be”. He views himself as a modernistic disastrous hero; he is a sort of ingenuous or dummy hero for his world is not literal. This also is an incidence of paralysis of Profrock. There are as well several instances, images, voices, and visions throughout the poem which demonstrate paralysis. “And would it have been worth it, after all” is another line in the poem that reveals self-internal frays and struggles that invade the existing image. A reader comes across cases of the fear for the future. The protagonist is seen as having a lot of anxiousness concerning the future and he thinks that when he grows old, he approaches death. Therefore, fragmentation is the most recurrent theme in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock; Prufrock has no hope for the future.

It is in the evening when the “you” is asked over to make a visit across a slum area. Metaphysically, the evening is “Like a patient etherized upon a table”. Therefore thought of illness or paralysis is brought along with a proposition that the world is dusky not just because of the time of day but because of the domain between the luminosity of life and the shadow of death. This further implies that the etherized patient is the modern man as well as the contemporary world. The reader then expects “…an overwhelming question” to be answered by the surgery and the diagnosis. But, what is that question? The reader keeps on wondering. The readers is finally taken into a sophisticated room where “room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo” and their subject is a Renaissance man.

In the end, Prufrock visits a lady whom he loves but to whom he is not capable of affirming his feelings and wishes. Prufrock reviews his life in advance of the important meeting. It is a challenging preparation experience as manifested by, “And time yet for a hundred indecisions.” Prufrock’s “a hundred visions and revisions” exhibits the manifestation magic or religious mystics, paragons and artists. This equally presents the indecisive Prufrock who is troubled so concerning doing things right that he never affirms himself.

Diffidence and reluctance again emerge in Prufrock’s self-interrogation such as “”Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?””, “So how should I presume?” Further diffidence is demonstrated by other questions such as “Then how should I begin”, “And how should I presume?”, “Shall I part my hair behind?” “Do I dare to eat a peach?” Prufrock cannot risk eating a peach because he fears having a stomach or bowels upset. Prufrock envisages women gossiping on thinning hair, but not on his epic manliness or confidence. This especially comes out in, “They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”

The anxiousness ingrained by Prufrock in social word he is scared of facing the woman talking Michelangelo. Profrock raises his spirits by asking himself how he can fortify himself, but he is afraid. Profrock asks, “Should I, after tea and cakes and ices have the strength to force the moment to crisis”. Profrock further feels the impact of the penetrating social reactions. He is anxious even in the thought of the society and the critics:

“And I have known the eyes already, known them all–

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,”

Prufrock’s living of cultured properness and barren affectation reverberates resoundingly in

“For I have known them all already, known them all:–

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall…”

Prufrock’s proper conduct in his withdrawing room society has been determined by inconspicuous coffee spoons, and the “…voices dying with a dying fall” which was the music from a further room into which Prufrock dares not irrupt.

Prufrock’s repetitive usage of “known” such as “For I have known them all already, known them all:–“, “Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,” “And I have known the eyes already, known them all–“bars the Biblical sentience of coition. A reader hears Prufrock’s cynicism for carnality in the part he talks about ladies’ arms that, different from the limbs of stone sculptures “But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!” Prufrock aspires he could have been an expression of raw appetence;

“I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas”

But having the strength “…to force the moment to its crisis?” is paradoxically rhyming with, but left out in the elegant “…after tea and cakes and ices.”

Prufrock compares himself to the Biblical Lazarus, a pair of Biblical characters who resurrect from the dead. But then there will be no come back for Prufrock from the unearthly grave that is his futile existence. He says, “I am not Prince Hamlet,” he also waffles and defers but at last takes a heroic move. Prufrock is more of a Polonius, a fouling-up sententious chump; he is schooled but lacks accomplishment and contentment.

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Finally, an incident of anti-heroism archetype in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is of Prufrock taking a walk along the shoreline with his trousers rolled up to prevent them from being splashed with mud. His hair is prudently combed over his bald-headed spot. Here, the thinness of Prufrock’s arms and legs cannot be hidden by swallow-tailed coat and pants. Hamlet, Michelangelo, Orsino, and Lazarus would have soaked up the waves to listen to the imaginary beings’ song and to submerge in the delights that come with life’s cuddles. Eventually Prufrock is woken up from his dreams just to submerge in the dry barrenness of a wasted being.


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