Modernism Defined In T.S. Eliot's The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock And James Joyce's The Dead

1522 words - 6 pages

Modernism is by no means easy to define. In fact, no one is exactly sure if the movement has even ended yet. But that’s befitting of the period, as well as the pieces of literature that serve to define Modernism. Two pieces, T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and James Joyce’s “The Dead”, are epitomes of this modernism. In both, the main characters are paralyzed by an inability to communicate, even while speaking. Whether through Prufrock’s musings concerning love life, or Gabriel’s inability to evoke certain feelings out of his wife, both men experience this effeminization of the intellect and communication. But where does this communicative castration begin? Most likely, in the bustling metropolises and dehumanizing philosophies that precipitate the Modernist movement. The modern man witnessed the killing of fifteen million people in the first Great War – bestial in the sheer amount of murder this war created. Meanwhile, modernity defined man’s character for him: Darwinism told him that he was the offspring of lesser animals, that man was, in essence, himself an animal. Also, Freudian psychoanalysis told man that his psyche was the product of his childhood and sexual instincts. Defined by that which he had no control over, or was too young to consciously alter, the modern man’s identity was no longer his to artifice, but society’s to manufacture at the behest of environment and upbringing. Which makes sense because, when we talk about personalities, sexualities and such today, we constantly hear the phrase “nature versus nurture”. What about “self”? Does the self have no control over these very crucial aspects of identity? Modernity has told these men “no”, that they do not form their own identities but that all things around man molds him into a specific person, whether through nature or nurture or both. And this is the Modernism that Eliot and Joyce are surrounded by - these are the ideas that mold their literature into cornerstone pieces of this movement. Therefore, the identity-less J. Alfred Prufrock and Gabriel Conroy, through various literary techniques, are shown to be in a perpetual decadence, as are their surroundings. In this vein, I will exemplify in T.S. Eliot’s “J. Alfred Prufrock” and James Joyce’s “The Dead” how, firstly, the main character’s stories are similar in metaphorical movements represented by their physical environments, secondly, how these characters differ from antithetic Romantic characters, and lastly, how both men’s relationships are affected by their decadence of identity.
In both pieces, we see a downward movement in the narratives that are either represented by, or happen in, the physical world. In Eliot’s poem, the storyline begins “spread out against the sky”, followed by a yellow mist that “slides along the street” (ll. 2, 24). Soon after, the narrator says he should be “scuttling across the floors of the sea” and by the end of the poem he has done just that, saying “We have...

Find Another Essay On Modernism Defined in T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and James Joyce's The Dead

Analysis of T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

1342 words - 5 pages Analysis of T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock      'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' demonstrates the effects of social and economic pressure in the life of a Victorian man. T.S. Eliot shows us, in an ironic monologue, how the reality of age and social position paralyzes his character with fear. The poem opens with six lines from Dante?s ?Infernio?. This particular stanza explains that the speaker is in hell and the

Analysis of T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

639 words - 3 pages Though the title of Eliot's poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" leads the reader to believe it will be a sweet poem, the juxtaposition of the epigraph right after the title deeply contrasts the initial thought. It is from Dante's Inferno and explores the suffering and uncertainty in Prufrock. Translated, the epigraph is Guido de Montefeltro confessing his sins to Dante assuming that he, like all others, will not be able to escape the

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" T.S. Eliot's Portrayal of Personal Failure & Inadequacy

1521 words - 6 pages The title of Eliot's poem immediately puts an end to any real suggestion that it has a romantic side. Indeed, the very name of the character implies that he is a rather obscure fellow, in fact a total non-entity.As the first stanza begins, the opening two lines seem fairly innocuous in their description of the evening sky, but any further thoughts the reader might have regarding what is - after all - supposed to be a love song, are soon

Love and Rejection in T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

1595 words - 7 pages 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

T.S. Elliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

1412 words - 6 pages T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” tells the speaker’s story through several literary devices, allowing the reader to analyze the poem through symbolism, character qualities, and allusions that the work displays. In this way, the reader clearly sees the hopelessness and apathy that the speaker has towards his future. John Steven Childs sums it up well in saying Prufrock’s “chronic indecision blocks him from some important action

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

1126 words - 5 pages T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” draws attention to the idea that time is of the essence. On the surface, Prufrock is portrayed as a man who is incapable of making decisions and lacks self-confidence. This is evident through his passive nature, where he continuously delays having to talk to women because he believes there is enough time. Written in the era of modernism, the reader is capable of unraveling that the poem’s true

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

1037 words - 4 pages The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was written by T.S. Eliot in 1917. When looking at the title, one can immediately assume that this poem is a love story or even an actual love song. Actually, after reading one will find a great struggle and in fact no love song will be sung. The poem begins with a short passage from Dante’s INFERNO. With this reference, it immediately gives an eerie

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

1172 words - 5 pages Passive Lovers T. S. Eliot was the dominant force in twentieth-century British and American poetry. With poems such as The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, he introduced an edgy, disenchanted, utterly contemporary version of French Symbolism to the English-speaking world. Most poets recognize that in producing a sensational poetic work, many concerns arise with the use of various literary tools to convey ideas, opinions or simply an

"The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" by T.S Eliot

646 words - 3 pages ' alerts the reader that Prufrock has some sort of desire or unresolved issues which torment him. Phrases such as 'none ever did return alive from this depth' indicate that Prufrock is calling out from the depths of hell with a sense of pessimism and depression. A key stylistic feature used in the epigraph is juxtaposition. The title 'Love Song' implies the poem will be about a man's compassion and love for his wife or girlfriend, yet the introductory

Poetry analysis of Blake's London and Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

1374 words - 5 pages because they are 'cute'. They write poems to offer an insight into the nature and concerns of the societies in which they lived. Blake's Holy Thursday from Songs of Experience (1794) and Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock are two poems that explore this. In Holy Thursday (1794), Blake examines the effects of an early-1790s society that disregards a warning about looking after one another. Blake portrays a society that is struggling to

Comparing Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby and Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

1233 words - 5 pages " (Brians), F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock address many of the same themes in attempting to restore the "lost generation." In developing these themes, both authors utilize weather, the concept of illusion versus reality and the direction of time as a mode of conveying the promise of their dream to the citizens of the Jazz Age. In both The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The

Similar Essays

T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

1102 words - 5 pages T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" draws attention to the idea that time is of the essence. On the surface, Prufrock is portrayed as a man who is incapable of making decisions and lacks self-confidence. This is evident through his passive nature, where he continuously delays having to talk to women because he believes there is enough time. Written in the modernist era, Eliot not only portrays Prufrock's inability to make

The Use Of Symbolism In T.S. Eliot's, The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

1464 words - 6 pages The Use of Symbolism in T.S. Eliot's, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock A well-written poem is built out of levels. Each level alludes to the next until the ultimate discovery of the poet's message. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," by T. S. Eliot, provides a perfect example of a well-crafted poem comprised of sequential levels, also known as a framed story. At the level just below the very surface, the poem obscurely tells the story

Emotion In T.S. Eliot's The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

1455 words - 6 pages Emotion in T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock In his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” T.S. Eliot subtly conveys a wide variety of Prufrock’s emotions; he creates pathos for the speaker by employing the “objective correlative,” which Eliot defines as “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events [that] shall be the formula of that particular emotion” (“Hamlet and His Problems”). The first stanza introduces

Explication Of T.S. Eliot's The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

935 words - 4 pages Explication of T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" In T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," the author is establishing the trouble the narrator is having dealing with middle age. Prufrock(the narrator) believes that age is a burden and is deeply troubled by it.. His love of some women cannot be because he feels the prime of his life is over. His preoccupation with the passing of time characterizes the fear of