Analysis Of The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

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“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot is a widely studied and analyzed modernist poem. This poem is one that many high school students are subjected to, leading to an overall displeasure for “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” However, those that revisit the poem are more inclined to enjoy and analyze the poem, finding an interest in the character of J. Alfred Prufrock. Charles C. Walcutt is one of the many individuals fueled to provide a deeper analysis of this text and in his contribution to the November edition of College English, an essay entitled “Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,"” he addresses his impression that the “Love Song” portion of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” has been neglected and what that could mean to the context of the poem.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” follows a man engaging the reader, taking them on a tour of London. Prufrock and the reader pass “one-night cheap hotels” and “sawdust restaurants,” and every step down the streets is tedious, heavy with the weight of a looming question. As the Prufrock and the reader walk down the street, they notice that everything is touched by a yellow fog, as if it is a cat that curls around everything and settles down to sleep, keeping the city enveloped in the fog and soot from the chimneys. He needs not worry, for he has plenty of time. There is time to prepare to meet people, time to work and to ask important questions, and time to be indecisive, all be for it is time for “toast and tea.” He thinks that he has plenty of time but he is paralyzed by the fear of what they will say about his appearance and his age. Even though he is in no hurry, he feels rushed, wondering if he should dare to disturb the universe, yet his cons...

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...that he is not a leading man or a character of any importance in the story of his life. He reflects on himself as “Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—Almost, at times, the Fool” and is always conscious of how he looks and how he will be perceived (lines 117-119). Prufrock is an aging average man, not even able to attain the status of a Fool, for fools are engaging and entertaining, playing an active role within a certain group. The tentative and faltering man dreams to be desired and enchanted by the song of mermaids. This is the portrayal of a man not simply alone, but lonely. It is a human necessity to have a sense of belonging and this is what Prufrock lacks. He creates a separation between himself and others, repeating the phrase “I have known them all” throughout many stanzas and he worries about what “they” will say.
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