Explication Of “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock
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The heart-breaking monologue of a depressed and insecure man who craves affection, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot, is an eloquent and imaginative poem. Too insecure to act upon his desires, Prufrock, fantasizes about making a personal connection with a woman. His fear of scrutiny and rejection, however cause even his fantasy to be a disappointment. By contrasting images of loneliness metaphors for affection and attention with allusions pertaining to death, Prufrock reveals his torturous dilemma.
Throughout the poem, Eliot uses metaphors to describe Prufrock’s fears and desires. T.S. Eliot used the term objective correlative to describe the projection of tone onto inanimate objects. He begins the poem by describing the evening as, “spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherized upon a table.” This simile indicates the numbness and immobility that Prufrock is experiencing and shows how he projects his self-pity onto things around him
Prufrock then asks the reader to accompany him through a dirty, desolate, and lonely city. Describing, “Streets that follow like a tedious argument/ Of insidious intent” Prufrock reveals the extent of his depression, which is so intense that even walking down the street is a wearisome, even treacherous task for him.
The next stanza metaphorically describes the dirty fog and smoke that surrounds the house as a feline lavishing attention upon the house. Due to the feminine nature associated with a cat, this passage clearly illustrates Prufrock’s deep yearning for love and attention.
He claims, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” showing how prevalent and pointless social events have been in his life. Describing the scrutiny and judgments of his peers, he compares himself to a scientific specimen as insignificant as an insect: “when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, when I am pinned and wriggling on the wall.” He wonders how he c...
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