Examination of the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

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The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock is a long and challenging poem that seems rather disjointed and confusing upon first reading. It seems as though us readers will never understand the deeper meaning of the poem without getting inside Eliot's head and seeing his thought process for ourselves. However, through digging deeper and examining the piece closer we can find that this is meant to be an ironic and tragic tale of a man who feels isolated and incapable of decisive action. It is ironically called a "love song" because Prufrock longs to profess love and affection to a woman, but is too afraid to do it.

"Prufrock" can be viewed as a representative character; whether he is meant to specifically represent the author or mankind in general we can only speculate. However, comparisons between the character of "Prufrock" and Eliot himself beg to be made. Eliot's earlier signature was "T. Stearns Eliot"—closely resembling that of his meticulously developed character in the poem. Eliot privately expressed frustration to friends that he was still a virgin at age 26, and had great difficulty interacting with women, which is the subject at the root of this poem. Eliot opens the poem with a passage from Dante's Inferno, specifically the passage in which Guido da Montefeltro agrees to tell Dante his personal story solely because Dante, too, is in Hell with no hope of return just like himself. This suggests that Prufrock is one of the damned and intends to speak only to those who are in his same situation. The poem itself opens with the line "Let us go then, you and I" (Eliot, line1), which can be interpreted as "you, who are like me." It is as though Eliot is inviting those of his like-mind and in the same metaphorical "hell" to accompany him through this poem just as Guido da Montelfeltro did with Dante. Eliot, or "Prufrock," proceeds to take the reader through "certain half-deserted streets" (Eliot, line 4) in a night that is described to be "like a patient etherized...
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