Despite the different eras in which they were written, T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock centers on a theme of love and rejection similar to that in Robert Browning’s The Last Ride Together. In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, it is unclear whether Prufrock is really in love with the person he is speaking to in the poem, and this reflects the sensibilities that came with modernist poetry. Prufrock is afraid of rejection, and is on the edge about whether or not to confess his love. In The Last Ride Together, it is clear that the speaker is eternally in love with the person he is addressing, which actually rejects typical beliefs of the Victorian era, since the Victorians believed in chaste marriage before true love. Browning’s character, however, is not afraid of rejection, but nevertheless gets rejected. Although both these poems deal with a different kind of love—whether it be the kind that is unsure or the kind that is undying—both speakers deal with the concept of rejection. This further signifies a relation between the two poems, because although they have contradicting ideas about life and love, they both end up in the same place, suggesting that neither of the characters has power over his fate when it comes to love. Although The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Last Ride Together differ in that they deal with contrasting ideas about time, they both project similar ideas of love and rejection. In comparing the two poems, readers can see that no matter what they wish, they do not have power over their love lives.
In the Victorian era, it would be typical for a woman to marry for money, or for reasons other than love. Unconditional love for Victorians was rare and un-coveted. Browning’s character makes it clear that he does not believe in this, and goes on to express his feelings for his love. Browning has his character rejected in the end for the purpose of teaching his readers a lesson – love is uncontrollable and no one has power over it. Browning was considered one of the most influential Victorian poets in history, and so we can assume that his writing reflected Victorian ideas and values.
Prufrock is a typical modernist man – he is eloquent and proper while also neurotic and unsure of himself. Modernist poets aimed to write poetry that reflected their world after World War I. Modernists saw their world as disconnected and disparaged; a reflection of the way Prufrock sees himself. Prufrock is too afraid to confess his love, and although he toys with the idea of telling her, he decides not to because he is afraid of rejection. Although Prufrock technically does not get rejected, he still ends up alone because of his inability to be audacious and have confidence in himself.
Browning’s character feels a distinct unwavering love whereas Prufrock is very unstable in his love and his feelings seem very questionable. Browning’s character describes how his “whole heart rises up to bless / [her] name in pride and...