Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Literature, Poem, Poetry, Time, World, Society, Life, Sociology

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/03/27

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T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

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In the chaos of everyday routine, Prufrock, the lyric hero of the poem, gradually loses his personality, making no efforts to defend himself from oppressive world and to justify his existence. Although he demonstrates some protest against those despicable rules, those “eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase” (“Prufrock” 56) metonymically denoting hypocritical representatives of his society that spend longs hours speaking about nothing important, concealing their indifference and ignorance under impeccable manners, it is an inner protest that is not based on any specific actions. His life is pathetic: he does not have strong motivation for struggling. He measures his time “with coffee spoons” (“Prufrock” 51); such an image is used to underline that this time is spent uselessly, in accordance to social conventions.
Prufrock is trapped into a vicious circle: on the one hand, he desires to escape the trivial reality striving for high feelings; on the other hand, he is not willing to assume responsibility for his own freedom. He seems to entirely rely on Fate succumbing to the pressure of society, norms of which he reluctantly accepts: he largely depends on public opinion worrying about how people will perceive him, worrying about his appearance, about his growing old; thus, he tries to look fashionable (“I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled” (“Prufrock” 111)), deceiving other people and himself.
In addition to that, Prufrock constantly hesitates, being not sure how to behave, how to express himself: he often asks himself rhetoric questions (“how should I begin” (“Prufrock” 69), “Do I dare” (“Prufrock” 38) etc.), and he does not have any answers to them. He analyzes his past wondering whether it was right of him to devote himself to his beloved since she did not appreciate his efforts saying “That is not what I meant” (“Prufrock” 97). However, his hesitations do not concern only philosophical issues. Simultaneously, Prufrock is worried about insignificant things: “Do I dare eat a peach?” (“Prufrock” 122). The seriousness of such phrases is questionable.
The contradiction between Prufrock’s inner world and society is reinforced by many figurative images occurring in the poem. The evening which, as an image, normally triggers romantic associations here is metaphorically compared to “a patient etherized upon the table” (“Prufrock” 3); such a simile may be interpreted as an emphasis on Prufrock’s banal existence and his pessimistic views. The fact that the author uses personifications is not a coincidence: depicting, for example, the evening and the fog as living beings, the former as a person and the latter as an animal rubbing “its back upon the window panes” (“Prufrock” 15), he reveals the discrepancy between Prufrock’s mental picture of life and disappointing reality: obviously, he sees the world untypically, to some extent, poetically; however, such a vision is not appreciated by the crowd which demands that everybody think identically. The same concerns mermaids, “sea-girls wreathed with seaweed” (“Prufrock” 130) whom the lyric hero mentions at the very end of the poem: mermaids, mythological symbols of insatiable desire and its frustrating outcomes, of the dream that will never come true, are the epitome of Prufrock’s hopes, futility of which he accepts (“I do not think they will sing to me” (“Prufrock” 125)). Therefore, these images reflect Prufrock’s understanding of the world and the gap between his dreams and reality.
Repetitions, both lexical and syntactic, used in the poem also convey important meanings since they perform particular functions in the context. For instance, in the strophe where the fog/smoke is personalized, parallel constructions serve to reflect Prufrock’s lifestyle, its slowness, dullness and repetitiousness. Repetitions are also used to create the impression of solemnity (“there will be time / For And for” (“Prufrock” 23-33)) and to emphasize the lyric hero’s emotions and hesitations (“how should I presume?” (“Prufrock” 54)). Finally, repetitions reinforce the ideas expressed in the poem; an excellent example of this is the phrase “In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo” (“Prufrock” 13-14/35-36): repeated twice, it draws readers’ attention to the fact that during social conversations, it is considered necessary to discuss art and other “high” things, even if those involved into the discussion are not well-acquainted with the topic; in this way, the author underlines the unnaturalness of such social intercourses, revealing the vanity of those taking part in such a farce.
Concerning the tone of the poem, it may be defined as ironical. Firstly, the irony consists in play on the content: serious, philosophical reasoning, Bible allusions (“There will be time to murder and create” (“Prufrock” 28)) are interwoven with routine worries of the lyric hero which creates the effect of some incongruity triggering ambiguous attitude towards what is being told. Secondly, Prufrock, aware of his own weaknesses, seems to mock at himself: he admits that he is “an attendant lord” (“Prufrock” 112), an ordinary, mediocre person who has no exceptional features. Although he is not devoid of passion for power, which is a human natural impulse, Prufrock, being afraid of responsibility, completely lacking ambition and will, chooses a simpler way, preferring the role of Fool. Therefore, he is like a marionette that acts under the control of some outer force, in this particular case – society.

Works Cited

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Poetry Foundation. Web. 23 April 2015

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WePapers. (2021, March, 27) Free Essay On Poetry Analysis. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-essay-on-poetry-analysis/
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Free Essay On Poetry Analysis. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-essay-on-poetry-analysis/. Published Mar 27, 2021. Accessed May 11, 2021.
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