The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Allusion Analysis
Eliot opens "The Love Song" with this quotation from Dante's epic poem. The speaker, Guido da Montefeltro, imprisoned in a flame in Hell, relates his shameful, evil life to Dante only because he thinks Dante will never go back to earth and repeat it (Teddy). This suggests that Prufrock is in hell. But Prufrock is in a hell on earth; a hell in the form of a modern city with smoky skies (Cummings). The quotation also points out that Prufrock can present his feelings "without fear of infamy." Eliot mentions, “The women come and go talking of Michelangelo” (Beers 584). The women are at a social gathering discussing about the Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Prufrock's anxiety is rooted in the social world. Not only is he afraid to confront the woman talking of Michelangelo, he seems intimidated by the social posturing he must engage in. Eliot repeats the Michelangelo line suggesting that Prufrock is truly overwhelmed by Michelangelo and will not confront the women because of that. Eliot refers to John the Baptist when Prufrock mentions that "I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet" (Beers 586). John the Baptist was murdered because he had the courage to tell a king that he was living corruptly. He died because he spoke the truth. But Prufrock imagines that revealing his true self to others would kill him, so he will not (Colas). He is "no prophet" because he doesn’t have the courage (Beers 586).
Eliots alludes to Lazarus of Bethany, brother of Martha and Mary. When Lazarus died, he was taken into heaven. When a rich man named Dives died, he went to hell. He requested that Lazarus be returned to earth to warn his brothers about the horror of hell, but his request was denied. Eliot has Prufrock ponder about engaging a conversation with the women (Cummings). Prufrock plans to confess everything but he thinks they will...
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