The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

1253 Words6 Pages
T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is an ironic depiction of a man’s inability to take decisive action in a modern society that is void of meaningful human connection. The poem reinforces its central idea through the techniques of fragmentation, and through the use of Eliot’s commentary about Prufrock’s social world. Using a series of natural images, Eliot uses fragmentation to show Prufrock’s inability to act, as well as his fear of society. Eliot’s commentary about Prufrock’s social world is also evident throughout. At no point in the poem did Prufrock confess his love, even though it is called “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, but through this poem, T.S. Eliot voices his social commentary about the world that Prufrock lives in.

Prufrock’s social world is initially revealed as he takes the reader on a journey. Through the lines 1-36, the reader travels with Prufrock through the modern city and its streets as we experience Prufrock’s life and explore his surroundings through his eyes. From the very beginning, the city is portrayed as bleak and empty with no signs of happiness. The setting as Prufrock walks through the street appears to be polluted, dirty, and run-down, as if it is the cheap side of town, giving the feeling of it being lifeless, still, eerie, sleepy and unconscious. Eliot uses imagery, from the skyline to half-deserted streets, to cheap hotels to sawdust restaurants to demonstrate the loneliness and alienation the city possesses. The city Prufrock resides in is, in a way, a shadow of how he is as a person, and the images of the city speak to some part of his personality. Just as the skyline is described as “a patient etherised upon a table” (3), it foreshadows and hints that Prufrock has an...

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...t any reminder of the social world would drown him.

Reinforcing the central idea of the poem through fragmentation techniques, and through commentary from Eliot about the social world of Prufrock, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot is of a man in a human connection voided modern society’s inability to take decisive action. Through Eliot’s fragmentation, the social world of Prufrock is seen as disordered, empty, repetitive, chaotic, judgmental, isolated and a couple others, but nonetheless, he painted a good portrait of the society and has a good sense of the society in which Prufrock inhabits.

Works cited

Eliot, T. S. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The Longman Anthology of World Literature: Volume F: The Twentieth Century. 2nd ed. Djelal Kadir and Ursula K. Heise. Toronto: Pearson Longman, 2009. 221-24.
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