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Distress in The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock Essay

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The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock - The Distress of J.Alfred Prufrock

The human psyche is divided into three distinct aspects: the Persona, the Shadow, and the Anima/Animus; at least, it is according to Jungian Psychology. Drawing heavily on the theories developed by Freud, Jung's psychological concepts tell us that if these three facets are not properly integrated - that is, if one of the three is overly dominant, or repressed, or all three are in conflict with each other - then an individual's energies - his libido - will be out of alignment, causing psychological distress and unconscious problems.

The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock, if read Archetypaly, reveals to us such an individual. J.Alfred Prufrock, the nebbish
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Time for you and time for me,"

At times his Persona is in charge ('...prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet'); at other times, his Shadow surges forth ('There will be time to murder and create'). As he recognises, both vie for dominance, and each takes its turn holding the reins ('Time for you and time for me').

Unfortunately for Prufrock, this is an entirely unhealthy state of being. Neither aspect should be dominant at any given time - Prufrock should be in charge, having integrated both parts of himself into a healthy, cohesive whole. Without this synthesis, this acceptance of his darker urges and mundane appearance, his psychological energies are left unfocused - possibly leading to his extreme indecisiveness.

The unhealthy rigidity of his Persona is painfully apparent throughout the entire poem - it paralyses him completely in social situations, leading to intense insecurity ('And how should I presume') and shyness ('Do I dare?'). On the other hand, his Shadow urges and strains to do far, far more ('Shall I...', 'Should I...'), but, restrained by the Persona, manages to only express itself in fantasy.

So far, though, only two parts of Jung's psychological triumvirate have been dealt with.
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