Society gives us a set of unspoken rules and regulations that must be abided by or else society becomes ones own worst enemy; thus is Eliot's' message in his poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." This poem has been given a cynical voice in which Eliot tries to convey his message of modern society and its expectations. He is in a position in which he knows what the flaws in society are but does not have the courage or the ability to convey the message to the rest of the people. He fears what "they" might say and how "they" will treat him, will ruin him if he exploits society. Eliot gives evidence of the mockery society exhibits in line 41: "They will say: `How his hair is growing thin!'"(775) He knows that there are certain things that the puritan society will always talk about. Such things are physical appearance, the image of a woman and the extent of a persons' religiousness. However, the last is not expressed as much as the others. Eliot uses many very effective literary devices that help him portray his views on modern society. He conveys his views of modern society or actually the lack there of, by using metaphors (allusions to other texts), diction and imagery. He uses these to try to convey his message about what he thinks of modern society.
Eliot has a vast knowledge of other literary works. For example Eliot uses Dante's Inferno as his epigraph. He uses this in a metaphoric way in which he implies that if he could convey his message about society after being part of it, he would. However, because he does not have enough courage to do so, he can not convey his message openly and with authority: "`if I thought I was speaking to someone ...
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...will always have he/she running back to it. As did Alfred return to judging himself the same way society did.
Eliot has constructed a beautiful poem in which he described his views of modern society using literary techniques such as imagery, diction and metaphoric allusions. He expressed societal views using Alfred as the speaker to whom the events of the poem are revolved around. Eliot understands society to be a thing that is constantly watching and dissecting ones ways of living and ones views. Thus, a person is never free to be just simply him or her in the way he/she wants to be. Eliot expresses society to be that which drowns the individualistic voice in a crescendo of "human voices."
T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Vol. 2. ed. M. H. Abrams New York, London: Norton, 1993.
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