The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Preludes

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Eliot challenges his audience to consider the state of his character’s subconscious living within a corrupted society. Thomas Stearns Eliot’s poems, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock published in 1915, and Preludes published in 1917, resonate the decay and alienation of Eliot’s characters and civilization. Eliot employs various poetic techniques to challenge the reader to explore social fragmentation of the human psyche and the futility of an industrialization society.

Eliot explores seclusion and social fragmentation through the experiences of the persona in his poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The form of the poem is fragmented, containing an unequal number of lines with variable speech rhythms highlighting the confusion and anxiety of Prufrock due to his social isolation. Eliot incorporates various poetic forms including elements of sonnet, iambic pentameter and pastiche. The rhyming scheme in the poem is constantly changing enforcing a disjointed flow of rhythm and tone to the poem, reflecting fragmentation as the persona’s thoughts spontaneously shift from one emotion to another. Eliot’s use of catachresis in the line, “Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table” juxtaposes the beauty commonly associated with the night sky with numbness and decay of a comatose patient. The contrasting images denote fragmentation as it demonstrates Prufrock’s disordered psychological state, as he cannot conform with society, thus causing him to be an outcast. Eliot applies synecdoche in the line, “to prepare a face to meet the faces you meet” to exemplify Prufrock’s detachment from society as he is a broken identity. Eliot decontextualizes parts of the body rather than representing people as a whole identity, indicating social fragmentation in which humans are ‘parts’ that constitute society. The metaphor in the line, “When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall” refers to the pinning of...
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