The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock Analysis

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T.S. Eliot’s breakthrough poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is expertly crafted to have a complex structure with various hidden themes. The poem acts as an inner monologue for the titular character, appearing as lyric-narrative poetry. However, it does appear to lean towards a lyric poem, with the hazy plot consisting of Prufrock describing what his life has been like, in retrospect to speculating on what is to come next. The monologue throughout is melancholy in nature, with Prufrock dwelling on issues such as unrequited love, his frail body, his looming demise, and a dissatisfaction with the modernist world. Eliot uses a variety of metaphor within the poem to showcase Prufrock’s indecision, between being unable to fully live, while…show more content…
Eliot begins the poem with the original Italian text of Dante’s epic, “The Divine Comedy.” It contains six lines borrowed from “Inferno” that are verbal quotes from a character in the eighth circle of hell, stating he will confide in Dante on the basis that Dante should not be able to escape hell, and therefore cannot divulge his secrets to the people still living (Alighieri, 61-66). This reflects J. Alfred’s willingness to lament to the reader since the reader has no means to share his secrets with those in his world. With the reader being Dante in this analogy, it puts Prufrock in the position of Guido da Montefeltro, the damned soul speaking to Dante. While Guido is not alive, his soul is technically still living, having to endure torture for his mortal misdeeds. Similar to how Prufrock is a searing soul inside a decaying body, evidenced by the lines “With a bald spot in the middle of my hair” (Eliot, 40) and “(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)” (Eliot, 44). Meanwhile, Prufrock’s inner psyche is tormented by thoughts such as “though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed” (Eliot, 81) and saying his place in life is “Almost, at times, the Fool.” (Eliot, 118). These descriptions of himself develop the idea that Prufrock is likewise in a figurative Bolgia of hell, unwilling or unable to climb out, and so, like Guido, confesses his woes. Prufrock is, however, physically more alive than…show more content…
The first one is how Prufrock wishes to be a crab “Scuttling across the floors of silent seas” (73-74). By thinking this, Prufrock describes what his current life is like, a bystander not affecting anything or anybody. His human life is wasted for all the potential it had when he could have been a crab instead doing the same thing, which would be a fair life for a crab. Akin to the crab metaphor, Prufrock also states how he “shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk along the beach” (122). The white his trousers could signify the blankness that white represents, while a beach is an edge between land and ocean. The land is the world he belonged to in the past, while the sea is where he now feels he belongs by becoming a silent crab sunk beneath the depths. It can be gathered that Prufrock intends to clear his head like the whiteness of his trousers, and then to walk the line between the warm life he has known, and the cold slumber under the ocean. While Prufrock has been in agony overthinking this decision he decides the best course of action is to empty his thoughts and see what he
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