Essay T.S. Eliot and Modernism

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The modernist writers of the twentieth century produced works of poetry and prose which were unique to the form. The writing style of modernism was unprecedented and reflective of the socio-political events of the period. T.S Eliot was a pre-eminent figure in modernism publishing many important works of prose and poetry in his lifetime. “Eliot forged a style of aggressively fragmentary, urban poetry, full of indelicate, ‘unpoetic’ images and diction” (OXFORD BRITLIT) Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a poem that fully represents the ideas the modernists were attempting to convey. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” stands as a poem especially reflective of the modernist form because it contains elements used within …show more content…
In addition to the inclusion of Dante, Eliot makes a reference to a troubled Shakespearian character. The speaker describes himself not as Prince Hamlet, but as someone “[a]t times, indeed, almost ridiculous—/ Almost, at times, the Fool.” (Eliot, lines 118-119). Prufrock alludes to the prince from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” to illustrate the self-loathing; he is not a prince and no better than a fool. Finally, Eliot also makes biblical references in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Prufrock says, “Though I have seen my head [though slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,/ I am no prophet…” (Eliot, lines 82-83). This is a reference to Saint John the Baptist who was decapitated by King Harrod. The character of Prufrock is set in comparison to many magnanimous characters to illustrate his self-conscious state. Second, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is also representative of modernist writing because it contains themes that are reactionary to the themes of Eliot’s Victorian contemporaries. Victorian literature was fuelled by imperialism, the Great War, and women’s rights and was reflective of the decadent society of the Victorian period (ODLT). Eliot’s poem reacts against Victorian preoccupations. Prufrock is a simple man of high rank; he says he that “[he has] measured out [his] life with coffee spoons”, (Eliot, line 51) and worries frequently about unimportant things such as his thinning hair (Eliot 40). Compared to the subjects that his contemporaries were

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