Narrator-centered Analysis of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot

9 Feb 2024

In the poem , T.S. Eliot is trying to picturize the modern world in all its naked dread, unmasked by the impact of war, and he believes that poetry is to express the dread of the modern world and the life of modern man living in a modern society. He tries to depict modern concepts such as the misery, the disgusting homeliness and the laziness of inactivity imposed upon man expected to become a man of free will. The narrator of the poem, Prufrock, who knows too much about life but in prison of inertia , seems to be addressing a potential lover of a woman. All along the poem he asks himself continuously “ Do I dare ? ” which means that he also has lack of bravity. And he thinks that other people are thinking about his inabilitiness of expression.

The mixture of levity and seriousness immediately confronts the reader in the title poem of his first volume. For he transposes his epigraph from the serious context of Dante's Inferno to the lighter context of Prufrock's love song. The epigraph is never to be ignored in Eliot; for while it is not an essential part of the poem, it conveys hints of the significance or even genesis of the poem. Together with the title, it prepares the reader for the experience of the poem (Williamson, 1966) . In the poem , we have a narrator whose mind is totally blurred. We see his monologue is a perfect portrait of a instability, especially in the parts that he is overthinking.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock could be considered a poem that fixates on performance. It explores anxieties regarding a failed masculine performance as revelatory of a larger crisis of meaning. Within the poem, masculine identity is pursued via the speaker’s attempts to perform not only sexually but also poetically through complete and partial sonnet forms. These two types of performances succeed and fail to resonate as authoritative to varying degrees throughout the poem (Clifton, 2018). In the poem we see that our narrator goes to a place, where there are some women who comes, goes and talks about Michelangelo. In there, he was thinking and planning to attempt to declare and express his some kind of love to a woman but as a modern man he believes that he will get refused by the woman smoothly. And he countinuously postpones his actions and himself that “there will be time”.

The final scene in the poem is a romantic reverie of ideal love with mermaids. It is one of the few ways left, inevitably bound to frustration though it is, for Prufrock to utilize the emotion of desire which he has not outlived and which he finds, through disillusion and despair, impossible to fulfill in social life. His loveless predicament has now been defined as both complex and hopeless (Hakac, 1972). Prufrock of course has a complex mind. Eliot tries to reflect a modern complex mind which even can not simply act. This complexity is a curse for a modern man. There is a bunch of advantages in overthinking as a modern man but there are lots of disadvantages too.

To sum up poem is a very successful work of literary which creates a character totally fits with modern life of Eliot’s time. It is clear that Prufrock has an inactive persona which comes by his knowledge. Modern realities such as tentative attempts, overthinking, immobility, emotional paralysis and anxiety is the roots of the poem.

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