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T.S. Eliot Paints a Grim Picture in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock

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T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock” may be accurately described as an amalgam of synergistic emotions—among them self-doubt, longing, fear, regret, and indecisiveness—which, through the alchemy of poetry, work in tandem to create and communicate an overwhelming sense of anxiety. These emotions serve as cataracts upon the lens through which the poem’s narrator views both himself and the city streets he travels. Overwhelmed by an “overwhelming question” (10) the narrator—perhaps more terrified by the sheer gravity of the “overwhelming question” (10) than the numerous other fears and self-doubts the narrator presents to the reader—never unequivocally specifies, the poem’s persona makes a journey through both city and mind to…show more content…
Line 92 echoes Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress,” a poem in which the persona sets out to convince his lover to act without hesitance or delay; in a more perfect world, the persona of “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufock” would “squeeze the universe into a ball” (92) and “roll it toward the overwhelming question” (93). In lines 94-95, the persona imagines himself as Lazarus, “ come from the dead, / Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all.” Here the persona, who has “seen his moment of greatness flicker” in line 84, envisions himself rising from the ashes of his agedness and decay to pose the overwhelming question to his lover without reticence. “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufock” presents the image of a man who fears the toll that time has taken and continues to take on his aesthetic appeal. Preoccupied with the way others perceive him, the persona of the poem regards himself as an aging, decaying figure. This anxiety is particularly evidenced in the seventh stanza of the poem in which the persona declares that he will be judged both for his receding hairline and the thinness of
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