T.S. Eliots use of Poetic techniques in The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Wasteland

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T.S Eliot, widely considered to be one of the fathers of modern poetry, has written many great poems. Among the most well known of these are “The Waste Land, and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, which share similar messages, but are also quite different. In both poems, Eliot uses various poetic techniques to convey themes of repression, alienation, and a general breakdown in western society. Some of the best techniques to examine are ones such as theme, structure, imagery and language, which all figure prominently in his poetry. These techniques in particular are used by Eliot to both enhance and support the purpose of his poems.

The theme of Prufrock is the negative, individuality repressing effect that society has on its people.
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In contrast, the theme of The Waste Land is applied to the whole of society, rather than just to a single person or situation. For different reasons, this is also quite effective, the jumbled, unstructured nature of the poem only adding to the sense of cultural breakdown that pervades throughout the whole poem. The second discrepancy is that Prufrock does not really state a position, it neither gives hope nor prophecies doom. The Waste Land, on the other hand, whilst portraying the world as desolate and meaningless, offers hope of redemption through returning to more traditional values and beliefs.

The general layout and physical structure of Eliot’s poems is much more meaningful and complex than one would originally assume. In Prufrock, the structure is comparatively regular. The stanzas all conform to a general size and shape. In The Waste Land, there is no regularity, the poem is very fragmented and has several different speakers. Although these are very different, they do work in quite a similar way to support the theme. In Prufrock, the regularity is a metaphor for the way that the persona is restricted, forced into society’s mould and has no room to express individuality. In The Waste Land, the irregular form relates back to the “…heap of broken images…” that is western society. It mirrors the incompleteness and emptiness of our civilisation according to Eliot. The form of Prufrock follows his stream of consciousness, it is a dramatic monologue and therefore very
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