Prufrock Anti-Hero

For a time, the main characters in a story, poem, or narrative were easily classified as either being a hero or a villain. A hero would be easy to identify by the traits he'd possess, such as bravery, honesty, selflessness, trustworthiness, courage, leadership, and more. The villain would be easy to identify as well, possessing traits such as maliciousness, deceitfulness, immorality, dark, wishing harm upon others, and more. But what if the character lacked the natural heroic qualities but wasn't a villain either? What if the person displayed personality flaws that would traditionally be associated with a villain, but has heroic intentions? These questions were finally answered with the emergence of the anti-hero in literature.

The anti-hero is useless at being a hero when they should be one or have the opportunity to be one. Typically an ordinary, timid, selfish, anti-social, inept, cautious, passive, pessimistic person, they still manage to gain the sympathy of the reader. Usually unglamorous, many wallow in self-pity which only worsens their state of mind. Anti-heros rarely succeed at any goal set before them. Summed up in two words - failed heros. T. S. Elliot's “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a fantastic example of the modern anti-hero. A glimpse into the stream of consciousness of Prufrock reveals his secret struggles to handle a world he has no control over. Prufrock displays numerous characteristics of an anti-hero but three stand out the most: cowardice, passiveness, and pessimism.

Prufrock, the narrator of the poem, is a middle-aged man who is living a life void of meaning and purpose. His thoughts are depressing as he mulls over his dull, uneventful life. One of his most crippling traits is cowardice. He's v...

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...der sees a more sorrowful attitude.


In this passage, it's clear that Prufrock desires a woman's attention but doesn't think he will ever have it. This pessimistic outlook gives no hope at all and is just depressing.

When reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, there is no doubt at all that Elliot has indeed, created the most distinguishable anti-hero. Prufrock is shy, timid, haunted by thoughts degraded by failure, indecisive, pessimistic, self-conscious, and overall pathetic. He has a horrible, distorted view on society and feeling sympathy for the man is almost inescapable. Prufrock will never be the hero. His self-doubting and cynical nature, bundled with suppression and a melancholy attitude towards life is leading only to a future full of isolation and loneliness. This is the summarization of the life of the anti-hero.
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