Essay The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

Essay The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

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Is modern life automated and devoid of purposeful existence? Does humanity suffer from a lack of vision and purpose in life? Can individuals in today’s contemporary society cope with the mediocrity, monotony and hollowness of their lives? Almost 100 years after first being published, T.S Eliot’s poetry still resonates with us, due to his exploration of these timeless, universal and enduring questions that characterize the impotence of the modern individual. Responding to the aftermath of WW1 and the paradigm shift that resulted from rapid industrialization and urbanization, Eliot presents a panoramic perspective of the futility and chaos that characterized the post-war environment. Loss of individualism, relaxed moral standards, alienation and isolation were feared outcomes of urbanization and paramount issues that permeated people’s consciousness during Eliot’s time, and continue to occupy our thoughts today.

Eliot’s preoccupation with the human psyche and mankind’s perpetual pursuit of purpose within a chaotic and fragmentory world manifests itself within his most renowned poem: The Love Song of J. 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. His existential questioning engages us as a modern audience, provoking us to question the int...

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...g but a whimper.’ Eliot concludes that Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot does not end with the powerful, triumphant, satisfying bang of an exploding parliament, but rather with the whimper of a fragile, defeated man. This bleak representation of the materialistic and industrialized modern world, where people live a robotic existence devoid of questioning and meaningful communication, becomes a lament for what could be lost and a warning for Eliot’s contemporary audience.

Ultimately, Eliot leaves us to contemplate if our lives will end with a bang or with an insignificant whimper? Will we lose our individuality and authenticity or will we strive to maintain our eccentricity? Will we become a victim of inaction, suffering the same fate as the Hollow Men? Or will we seize the day, find purpose in existence and end with celebratory bang, rather than the last twist of the knife?

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