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T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Essay

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T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" draws attention to the idea that time is of the essence. On the surface, Prufrock is portrayed as a man who is incapable of making decisions and lacks self-confidence. This is evident through his passive nature, where he continuously delays having to talk to women because he believes there is enough time. Written in the modernist era, Eliot not only portrays Prufrock's inability to make decisions when it comes to love, but also shows the desolation that one faces in times of transition into a modern world. Eliot depicts Prufrock's phase of development through a gloomy and solemn tone, incorporating imagery and metaphor to illustrate Prufrock's despondent state of mind and spirit.
Prufrock takes a journey of self-evaluation and self-examination, when he says, "LET us go then, you and I" (1). Even though we do not know where he is taking us, the personification of "the muttering retreats" in line 5 suggest that he is showing us around. The "retreats" are not "muttering," but it seems that way because they are the kinds of places where you would run into muttering people (Shmoop Editorial Team). Also, the restless nights mentioned in lines 4 and 6, "let us go, through certain half-deserted streets/Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels" allude to modernism—young people walking around at night, in and out of one-night cheap hotels. Another indication of the party and city-life is how observing Prufrock appears to be as he recalls seeing "sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells" (7). Being that sawdust is supposed to soak up liquid that is spilled on dance floors of restaurants, and oysters are aphrodisiacs, this suggests modernity. As he is showing us around the half-deserted str...


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...whilst time continues to move, aging him and making him depressed. Another interpretation is that because of the period that Eliot is writing in, Prufrock feels suffocated yet very isolated by the transition to a modernist era, as it is not something he is comfortable with or used to before. The use of metaphor allowed us to realize there were innuendos in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," whereas, through imagery, the reader can visualize the movement of time through Prufrocks visual changes in appearance.



Works Cited

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. T.S. Eliot. 1920. Prufrock and Other
Observations." 1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. T.S. Eliot. 1920. Prufrock
and Other Observations. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
Shmoop Editorial Team. " The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 Feb 2014.



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