Examination of the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

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The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock is a long and challenging poem that seems rather disjointed and confusing upon first reading. It seems as though us readers will never understand the deeper meaning of the poem without getting inside Eliot's head and seeing his thought process for ourselves. However, through digging deeper and examining the piece closer we can find that this is meant to be an ironic and tragic tale of a man who feels isolated and incapable of decisive action. It is ironically called a "love song" because Prufrock longs to profess love and affection to a woman, but is too afraid to do it. "Prufrock" can be viewed as a representative character; whether he is meant to specifically represent the author or mankind in general…show more content…
He rationalizes his fear by assuring himself that if he were to speak to a woman, she would dismiss him and not understand him at all anyway. He declares in line 110 that he is "not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be" (Eliot, line 110), but instead views himself to be like Polonius: an old fool who is too afraid to act on anything. Prufrock realizes he is growing old and running out of time to act on his desires. Like many men going through a type of mid-life crisis, he contemplates changing his clothing or hairstyle. In line 124, Prufrock says "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each" (Eliot, line 124), which is reminiscent of Odysseus being hypnotized by the song of the sirens. Prufrock then says "I do not think that they will sing to me" (Eliot, line 125). He has been enchanted by women, but he thinks that they do not want his attention and affections. The final three lines of the poem complete Prufrock's descent into a hell similar to Dante's: he mentions "we" again, which forces those who have listened to his story to accompany him to his descent—like da Montefeltro with Dante—so that no one can tell his story to others and embarrass him. Prufrock ends up paralyzed by frustration and desire for all the women who are unattainable to him, and any reminder of the social world he is not part of—the "human voices" (Eliot, line 131)—will drown

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