Pinned to the Wall: J. Alfred Prufrock and the Inability to Change Essay

Pinned to the Wall: J. Alfred Prufrock and the Inability to Change Essay

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Pinned to the Wall: J. Alfred Prufrock and the Inability to Change
If people are disappointed with themselves and what they have become, then there are naturally two options for remedy. One is to do whatever possible to change themselves and pave a brighter future. The second, perhaps less desirable, is to realize that change is useless or near-impossible, which leads to either finding peace in the way things are or recognizing the hopelessness in the absence of the way things could be. T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” reaffirms the uselessness of change (FINISH). This reflective yet despairing poem is the lament of a man who, though he would like to muster up the courage to become something else, is trapped by an inflexible inability to change who he is.
Before we are introduced to Prufrock himself, we notice that the initial scenes of this poem paint a landscape of apathy. The narrator mentions little about himself initially and beckons that we follow him down into a world without consequence “of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels” (Eliot 6). The later “streets that follow like a tedious argument of insidious intent” set the stage for Prufrock’s dilemma (ibid 9-10). Audrey Cahill says this scene foreshadows “Prufrock’s dialogue with himself, a dialogue which leads nowhere” and that thrusts the reader into meaningless chaos (6). Thus, even if these streets lead to an overwhelming question, the journey down them is rather mind-numbing and unnecessary if the answer gets us nowhere or, worse, merely emphasizes our own desolation. This is compounded by the appearance of a mysterious yellow catlike fog that “curled once about the house and fell asleep” (Eliot 22). Cahill also affirms that becaus...


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...ng transformative power (Jain 54). Soon enough, “human voices [will] wake” our narrator—and he will drown in (FINISH) (Eliot 131).


T.S. Eliot would later remark, “I’m afraid that J. Alfred Prufrock didn’t have much of a love life” (Southam 47). That is what makes this “love song” so brutal and caustic. For even when change doesn’t matter (FINISH quite atypical of standard romance. a man caught in stasis when (???). ). Even in his fantasies, Prufrock is Prufrock. (LEAD UP TO PINNED TO THE WALL) “, then how should I begin?” (line). The answer is that he can begin in any way he chooses—but it will not matter in the end. No matter his speech and no matter his wardrobe, he will forever be J. Alfred Prufrock—with a love song yet unsung that he believes the world would never want to hear.

Works Cited
BLUM
CAHILL
ELIOT
JAIN
SCHNEIDER
SOLES
SOUTHAM

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