Content, Themes, Diction and Imagery of Eliot's Poems

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The Content, Themes, Diction and Imagery of 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock', 'Portrait of a Lady', 'Rhapsody on a Windy Night' and 'Preludes' 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock', 'Portrait of a Lady', 'Rhapsody on a Windy Night' and 'Preludes' deal with the psychological impasse of the sensitive person from whom life has been withheld. Both 'Prufrock' and 'Portrait of a Lady' depict self-conscious, philosophical characters who are unable to act and dare not chance acting. As portrayed in 'Prufrock' the character is hesitant and determines action as risky and difficult: " Do I dare Disturb the universe?" (45-46). In 'The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock', the character Alfred Prufrock is struggling with the concept of asking the "overwhelming question …", (10). This may refer to one of the women in the room whom he is unable to ask to marry him. The male observer in 'Portrait of A Lady' also illustrates his inaction, apathy and numbness towards the older lady with whom he has a detached relationship. The imagery of the evening and fog that is personified in 'Prufrock' suggests some of the problems facing humans deciding to act. The fog curls around the house, the evening "sleeps so peacifully", "stretched on the floor" - or, like the etherized Prufrock, "malingers". Eliot is confronting the difficulty of action rather than its unpleasantness. 'Prufrock' and 'Portrait of a lady' convey specifically emotional inaction while 'Preludes' illustrates physical inaction, as a woman in the third section struggles sluggishly to awake and prepare to get out of bed. 'Preludes' also suggests the paralysis of the metaphysical, as the woman's soul is constituted by life's mundane "masquerade" (a "thousand sordid images). ... ... middle of paper ... ... researching one of the references, Henry James' 'Crapy Cornelia,' published in 1909, outlines some of the features of the poem. 'Crapy Cornelia' is a story of White-Mason, a middle-aged bachelor of nostalgic temperament, who visits a young Mrs. Worthingham to propose marriage but reconsiders owing to the difference between their worlds. It could have contributed a number of ornamental details and ideas. For example, at the crucial ending of 'Crapy Cornelia', White-Mason tells Cornelia, "I'm old", which is similar to the middle-aged Prufrock who says, "I grow old". When readers are aware of Eliot's references, the emotive tone and themes of the poems are intensified. Bibliography: A Student's Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot - B.C. Southam. The invisible poet T.S. Eliot - Hugh Kenner. Casebook Series, T.S. Eliot - Edited by B.C. Southam.
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