Middle Age in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Middle Age in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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In T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the author is establishing the trouble the main character, Prufrock, is having coming to terms with middle age. He is deeply distressed over the fact that he is growing old, and feels that the prime of his life has passed him by. His preoccupation with time throughout the poem characterizes his fear of aging. He is a man experiencing a mid-life crisis, brought about by his perception of aging and his own feelings of inadequacy.
     J. Alfred Prufrock is a man caught in a trap of constant introspection and indecision. “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 can not make a decision and act on it because of his feelings of inadequacy and his fear of rejection. Although Alfred is presumably affluent, 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!”) My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to my chin, my necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)(39-43)
Eliot uses the reference of time often in order to show the state of mind of Prufrock. The repetition of words like vision and revision exemplify his obsession with time and his indecisiveness. The time allusions show that Prufrock is getting increasingly older. For example, in line 51 he says, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”(51)
Prufrock’s insecurities make him feel like an outsider. “In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo.” He wants to approach the young
Women but he can not relate to them. He feels that because of his age, they would not accept him or find him attractive. “I know the voices with a dying fall—beneath the music from a farther room.”(52-53) He can hear the music playing, and the voices of the people enjoying themselves but his feelings of inadequacy keep him from joining them. He imagines that everyone’s eyes would be on him, analyzing him like an insect specimen pinned to a wall. “And I have known the eyes already, known them all—The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall.

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”(55-58)
     In Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the title character sums it up in line 86 when he says, “And in short, I was afraid.” Prufrock suffers from the age old male dilemma, the mid-life crisis. His obsession with time passing him by and his fear of growing old makes him a pathetic character. His perception of aging and feelings of inadequacy are the reason for his misery. As time passes by, so does the human spirit of J. Alfred Prufrock.








WORKS CITED

McMichael, George, Leonard, James S., Lyne, Bill, Mallon, Anne-Marie, Mitchell, Verner D., Claxton, Mae Miller, Anthology of American Literature, Eight Edition. Pearson Education, Inc. 2004. Eliot, T.S., The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.p.1145-48
     
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