"The Lovesong Of J Arthur Proofrock" By T.S. Eliot

1275 words - 6 pages

Jenna HeckerAndersonJ. Arthur Prufrock as a tragic characterThe lovesong of J. Arthur Prufrock is a candid look into the tortured psyche of a man struggling with his self-image. J. Arthur Prufrock is afraid to admit to himself that he has failed. He has failed in love, in life, and in his ability to establish his own identity.Prufrock invites us to join him in his self-examination and paints for the reader a dull yellowing world which he inhabits. "Let us go then you and I/ When the evening is spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherised upon a table." (Eliot, 1420) Eliot's carefully chosen words establish a picture of this dream world that is Prufrock's psyche. The word etherised, a ...view middle of the document...

Perhaps Prufrock has been watching these women long enough to know they do not care to watch him. His feelings of insignificance prevent him from associating with these women, or anyone at all.Prufrock tells us he is leading us to the "overwhelming question" which he never identifies or asks, possibly because he does not know it himself, or because he feels his self-analysis will answer this unspoken query. While we wait for Prufrock to answer this question, Prufrock is also waiting, but for what he does not know. The poem incorporates the theme of time as Prufrock repeats himself "there will be time" he assures himself. (Eliot, 1421) He acknowledges, however that as of yet there has been time only for hundreds of indecisions. Throughout the poem, the themes of time's passage and age continue to illustrate the unhappiness of Prufrock's life. Prufrock reveals the measured out portions of life he has lived: 'I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.' (Eliot, 1421) He keeps assuring himself "indeed there will be time" to do all the things he has planned for himself, but it is evident that his insecurities will prevent him from achieving what he wants to, and possibly even from identifying what he'd like to achieve. This is why Prufrock is such a tragic character. He has "seen the moment of [his] greatness flicker." (Eliot, 1421) He wants there to be time to "turn back and descend the stair." Essentially, Prufrock wants to turn his life back around, to gain confidence and become someone, but he knows that this will not be possible, as in order to turn back he needs to already have confidence in his own decision to change.Prufrock's self-loathing does not end at his personality, he is insecure about his hairline, which is fading just as quickly as his youth. He is sure that if he were to attempt to incorporate himself in society, everyone would take notice of his imperfections. He wants so desperately to be accepted that he can't bring himself to attempt it, for fear of the rejections he is sure he will encounter. Through out the poem you can see Prufrock's difficulty in communicating with other people - not surprising considering his extreme lack of confidence in his appearance. He is indecisive and unsuccessful in his attempts to communicate with...

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