The Paralysis of Prufrock in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

909 Words4 Pages
Paralysis, the incapability to act, has been a key element of many famous literary characters. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the paragon of paralysis, unable to sort through his thoughts, Hamlet only makes one decisive action, at the end of the play. T.S Elliot’s transfers Hamlets’ paralysis in his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The name Elliot chose for this indecisive, timid man epitomizes his character as well as his flaws. J. Alfred Prufrock needs this ranting monologue in order for him to understand the severity of his paralysis and fear of women and society. Elliot’s poetry is a melting pot of literary allusions and references. The first lines are directly quoted from Dante’s Inferno. Prufrock, as can be interpreted from…show more content…
In the next stanza, Prufrock tells himself repeatedly that “indeed there will be time.” This repetition is used in order to display Prufrock re-assuring himself that he does not need to meet the women in the room just yet, there will be time for himself and the woman he loves to meet and talk. Prufrock believes that there is enough time for his “hundred of indecisions and revisions before the taking of a toast and tea.” Not only does Prufrock seem to be afraid of confronting woman talking of Michelangelo, he seems intimidated by the social settings he must engage in. “There will be time, there will be time, To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet, There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate” (26-29) Prufrock’s social anxiety results in his worrying how others see him. He thinks about women’s arms and perfume, but does not know how to act. He admits he is ultimately afraid (line 86) of engaging in social activities. Elliot reveals the height of Prufrock’s paralysis by scrutinizing the absurdity of Prufrock’s concerns: “Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, / Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?” In the next few stanzas, Prufrock describes himself- balding, middle-aged, and plain- in order to draw in the reader to the point-of-view of the society. As detailed as Prufrock scrutinizes his physical appearance, he feels the
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