Human Insecurity in T.S Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock T.S Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is an examination of human insecurity and folly, embodied in the title's J. Alfred Prufrock. Eliot's story of a man's "overwhelming question", his inability to ask it, and consequently, his mental rejection plays off the poem's many ambiguities, both structural and literal. Eliot uses these uncertainties to develop both the plot of the poem and the character of J. Alfred Prufrock. The poem's setting is one that conjures up images of vagueness. It is filled with "yellow fog" and "yellow smoke", both of which suggest a certain denseness and haziness.
The entire novel is written in his perspective with little recognition if any, of Capitu’s side of the story. Bento perceives Capitu as a “capricious [creature]” with “undertow eyes” and spends much of the latter half of the book trying to undermine her credibility (244). This is because Bento is incredibly jealous of Capitu, so he perceives the most insignificant of gestures as an act of adultery. Keep in mind, Bento admits to having a terrible memory, claiming that he “can’t remember the color of [the trousers he] put on yesterday”, so the reader must question his statements often—especially when discussing Capitu (111). Another shortcoming of his is that he is neither hero nor antihero.
Alfred Prufrock. The relevance of this poem stems from Eliot’s transformation of his own personal experience of alienation and isolation into a subjective and relatable narrative in which we can locate truths about ourselves. The poem is an acute fusion of modernity and self-consciousness that is debilitating and paralyzing. Prufrock metaphorically looks through his window but never engages meaningfully with the outside world. He is an ageing man who laments the vacuity of his life and lack of intellectual, sexual and spiritual fulfillment.
“And time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions.” (32, 33) He has no confidence in himself mentally or physically. He cannot make a decision and act on it because of his feelings of inadequacy and his deep fear of rejection. Although Alfred is seemingly prosperous, He still fears that society will judge him because of his balding head and thin, aging body. “With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— they will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!’” (39-40) Prufrock sees himself as a victim of social status. He believes that he is constantly being analyzed by others and that he has been alienated from society.
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.
Prufrock's happiness in another world, un-judged and secure, is then destroyed as he brings the human voice into the poem. Overall, “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock” is multifaceted and can be misunderstood by the author’s choice of words and writing techniques. This complexity is what makes the poem unique and bursting with meaning. It captures an average middle age man who hasn’t found his identity and place in the world. It shows loneliness and the tedious life of someone who hasn’t happiness and true love.
Prufrock is considered to be a non- hero. Many other reviews of this poem, “ridicule the poem's main character for his timidity and self-deception” (Bagchee 1). At first glance Prufrock seems to be quiet and allows the word to pass by him, but “he is acutely conscious of the insensitivity and callousness of his society” (1). Prufrock may not be able to convey his feelings to women, but he knows who he is; “No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; / Am an attendant lord…” (Lines 117- 118).
Prufrock is a man for whom, it seems, everything goes wrong, and for whom there are no happy allowances. The emptiness and shallowness of Prufrock's "universe" and of Prufrock himself are evident from the very beginning of the poem. He cannot find it in himself to tell the woman what he really feels, and when he tries to tell her, it comes out in a mess. At the end of the poem, he realizes that he has no big role in life.
He claims that there will be much time to do things in the social world. Prufrock is more of an anti-hero that is controlled by fear. T.S Eliot uses tone, allusions, and imagery to explain a man’s inability to make decisions and his own self confidence in life in which he is afraid of the outlook of his future by being misunderstood. The tone of the poem is described as a weary, self-depressed outlook. He is uncertain about life and his place in it.
The self-centeredness of the speaker appears in the repeated use of "I", "me", "my". ‘I have had enough of being ignored…’ this shows that the people around him do not take enough consideration towards him, therefore he feels insecure and abandoned. He has no one to express what he is feeling because he feels isolated. Duffy creates an image of a lonely, desperate man that desires to be heard so the reader’s emotions would be pitiful. The writer wants the reader’s emotions to be sympathetic towards the character.