The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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T.S. Eliot exposes the reflections and emotions of J. Alfred Prufrock in this poem about his Love Song. Eliot does this in such a manner that Prufrock himself would not be capable of expressing, due to his rationale of showing the reader Prufrock’s diffidence throughout the poem. The attention of the reader is drawn from the beginning by Eliot’s utilization of an epigraph, which is a short saying or quote placed at the beginning of a writing to imply a theme. Eliot’s method of an epigraph helps create an effective way for the readers to identify and notice Prufrock’s uncertainty and lack of confidence in the poem. In lines 61-66, illustrated below, one can see the epigraph that Eliot uses, which is derived from Dante’s Inferno:

S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse

A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,

Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo. (61-66)

In the first stanza of the entire poem, Eliot opens up by saying, “LET us go then, you and I,” he relates to the audience as you by doing this. Therefore, whatever he states throughout this reading is addressing another individual. This is why this poem resembles that of a monologue and by comparing this poem to Dante’s Inferno, Eliot sets this apart from ordinary monologues.

Lines 13-14 & 35-36, “In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo”, Eliot situates a scene that is categorized by these repeated verses that occur twice in the same exact format. I believe this constantly repetitive line is setting the scene of some sort of social gathering and the reference of “Michelangelo” in it could resemble that the gathering is academically related and J. Alfr...

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...l with verbal communication; however, it isn’t he himself in the setting that is illustrating the scenery. This goes back to the discussion of him speaking from another location as Dante did. Reflecting on the poem as whole made Eliot’s usage of the epigraph passage by Dante logical and fitting.

Eliot’s experiences help him to be able to write, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, in which he infers personal feelings into his disturbed shadow known as Prufrock. The relation to the epigraph in the poem is not only suitable, but it elaborates on how an uneasy and hesitant character such as Prufrock is able to relate what he is trying to articulate in a poem without being present in the scenery. This gives Eliot the advantage of writing in first person. This in addition with his unusual, subtle, and impelling method, he is able to hold the attention of his readers.
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