The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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Prufrock Paralysis

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, written by T.S. Eliot, is a truly depressing poem. The poem concerns with a character (Prufrock) that can see and understand the values in life – love, joy, companionship, and courageousness – but is unable to act on his longings. The poem shows constant struggles of Prufrock’s uselessness. The worst part about his uselessness is that he is conscious of it. T.S. Eliot uses the theme of Paralysis, the incapacity to act, throughout the whole poem. Eliot uses the theme of paralysis to demonstrate Prufrock’s struggle his social, maybe even sexual, struggles.

Prufrock is a middle-aged man, who seems to be going through a mid life crisis, and is afraid to commit to anything. He lives such a depressing life. From the start of the poem, the readers can see a sense of paralysis in Prufrock. “Like a patient etherized upon a table,”(603). Ether was once used as an anesthetic, which is a drug that puts patients to sleep for surgeries. The use of ether in line three has two different meanings to it. The first being how Prufrock views himself; he feels as if he cannot achieve anything, as if he is in a constant state of being etherized. The second use of “being etherized,” is that he incapable of relating to the beauty of the world, which is an immensely depressing thought to have. This is a constant struggle with Prufrock because he always feels as if he is not good enough.

Beauty plays a crucial role in Prufrock’s paralysis. His constant thoughts of not being beautiful enough, and always feeling as people are judging him, make him feel not strong enough; thus leading to not being able to pursue anything. “With a bald spot in the middle of my hair – (They will say: ‘how is hair is growing thin!’),”(604). The readers get a clear image of what Prufrock looks like. He is a somewhat of an old man. The readers can see from this quote how Prufrock has little to no confidence in himself at all. Look at the line “they...
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