Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church and The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock
The span of time from the Victorian age of Literature to the Modernism of the 20th century wrought many changes in poetry style and literary thinking. While both eras contained elements of self-scrutiny, the various forms and reasoning behind such thinking were vastly different. The Victorian age, with it's new industrialization of society, brought to poetry and literature the fictional character, seeing the world from another's eyes. It was also a time in which "Victorian authors and intellectuals found a way to reassert religious ideas" (Longman, p. 1790). Society was questioning the ideals of religion, yet people wanted to believe.
In contrast, the 20th century found no such religious fervor in its literature. "They [writers] saw their times as marked by accelerating social and technological change" (Longman, p. 2165). Modern writers were skeptics, questioning every aspect of social unity, politics, and religion. "In the modern period the quest for certainty associated with the Victorian exploration of values has vanished" (Longman, p. 2167).
Yet many elements of literature remained throughout the changes in historical literature. Dramatic monologue were still used, as evidenced in Browning's "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church" and Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". Both contained this style of dramatic monologue, seeing a worldview through the eyes of a fictitious character. Browning's poem lies in the voice of a Bishop, giving instructions for the burial and tomb construction as he lays dieing. Eliot's poem, sees the world through Alfred J. Prufock, a somewhat shallow man who questions everything, yet does nothing. Both of these poems contain an element of personal questioning. "Do I live, am I dead?" (13) reveals the uncertainty of the bishops thoughts as he contemplates death, wondering if others see that he deserves such a fine tomb. In Eliot's poem, Prufrock poses his own questioning, "Do I dare?" (38) and "Do I dare/ disturb the universe?" (45-46) which reflects his own personal conflict as he struggles to decide on whether he should take action, any action in his own life.