The Love Song Of J, Alfred Prufrock

1176 words - 5 pages

The poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” written by T.S. Eliot is a depiction of sadness and a disillusioned narrator. While reading this poem, one senses that the narrator is disturbed and has maybe given up hope, and that he feels he is just an actor in a tedious drama At the very beginning of the poem, Eliot uses a quote from Dante’s “Inferno”, preparing the poem’s reader to expect a vision of hell. This device seems to ask the reader to accept that what they are about to be told by the poem’s narrator was not supposed to be revealed to the living world, as Dante was exposed to horrors in the Inferno that were not supposed to be revealed to the world of the living. This comparison is frightening and intriguing, and casts a shadow on the poem and its narrator before it has even begun. J. Alfred Prufrock is anxious, self-concsious, and depressed.
The first half of the poem creates a sense of place. The narrator invites us to go “through certain half-deserted streets” on an evening he has just compared to an unconscious patient (4). To think of an evening as a corpselike event is disturbing, but effective in that the daytime is the time of the living, and the night time is the time of the dead. He is anxious and apprehensive, and evokes a sense of debauchery and shadows. Lines 15-22 compare the night’s fog to the actions of a typical cat, making the reader sense the mystery of a dark, foggy night in a familiar, tangible way. One might suppose that “In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo” refers to a room in a brothel, where the seedy women for hire talk about elevated art between Johns (13). The narrator creates a tension in the image of dark deserted streets and shady activities in the dark.
Then the narrator falls into disillusionment, where there is a self-conscious sense of boredom, sadness, and perhaps frustration. Lines 23-34 uses the word “time” in almost every line, discussing the way in which there will be plenty of time, maybe too much time. “There will be time to murder and create, / And time for all the works and days of hands” is a direct reference to a Greek poem about farming and perhaps an indirect reference to the Bible where there is a time for every season (28). At the end of that stanza the narrator refers to his aging and the way in which other people view him. He is acutely aware of people judging him. It is as if he is being judged by the vague and ever elusive “They”. A paranoid specimen to be viewed and evaluated, “They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!” and “They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!” (41,44). This sense of disillusionment grows in the next part of the poem, where the voice of the narrator seems to sigh
“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
Beneath the music from a further room.
So how should I...

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