Ignorance is Bliss: An Explication of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

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J. Alfred Prufrock was a balding, middle-aged man who was insecure of his ability to converse with women. However, he implicitly danced with dishonesty and lived in an attitude of ignorance caused ironically through his lack of confidence in himself. Likewise, T.S. Eliot seems to have a monologue with himself as well as Prufrock that includes similar feelings of Prufrock’s character. For example, in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” Eliot reveals his personal insecurities in regard to writing modern public poetry in lines such as, “There will be time, there will be time/ to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;” (27-28) and, “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?” (45-46). These lines enhance the reader’s understanding that Eliot ponders whether he should allow his poetry to go public; telling himself that he has time and more time to enter his writing into the universe of new literature to be judged by critics as Prufrock felt he would have been criticized by women who admired men in great positions. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was most apparently written about Prufrock’s insecurity of women, but lines which contain dual meanings can be applied to both the main character and the author to indicate that Eliot is actually referring to his own anxieties of being an unsuccessful, modernistic poet whose voice could go unheard. The opening lines of prose introduce Eliot’s tone to the reader through line three inclusive to illustrate, as stated in line forty-nine, his all-knowing attitude through saying, “For I have known them all already, known them all—”. In contrast he presents his uncertainty in himself by ending the same stanza he begins with: “For I have known them all already, known them all—” (49) by presentin... ... middle of paper ... ...Eliot, Thomas S. "Tradition and the Individual Talent." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. John, Waterfield. The Heart of His Mystery: Shakespeare and the Catholic Faith in England Under Elizabeth and James. Bloomington, IN: IUniverse.com, 2009. Print. Michael North, The Political Aesthetic of Yeats, Eliot, and Pound. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991. Mitchell, Roger. A Profile of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Comp. Jack Elliott Myers and David Wojahn. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1991. Modern American Poetry. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. . Spender, Stephen, and J. H. Miller. "General Statements on Eliot." General Statements on Eliot. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. .

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