The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 455
  • Published : March 10, 2006
Open Document
Text Preview
T. S. Eliot uses irony and symbolism to capture the reader's attention in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The poem has a dramatic discourse. The percipience of life's emptiness is the main theme of the poem. Eliot exhorts the spiritual decomposition by exploring a type of life in death. T. S. Eliot, who in the Clark Lectures notes, "Real Irony is an expression of suffering"(Lobb, 53), uses irony and symbolism throughout the poem to exemplify the suffering of J. Alfred Prufrock who believes he is filled with spiritual morbidity and lack of feeling. Eliot utilizes various ironic interjections from other poets, and he uses ironic satirical rhyming phrases that fashion a sort of inane contradiction. Eliot uses many symbols to show corruption and rejection. The utilization of ironic insertion of other poets is used to help set the tone of the poem. This originates with an epigraph from Dante's Inferno, which instills an impression of conversing with the damned, or being ensnared in some semblance of hell. This is ironic due to the message "being carried from the abyss to our ears" (Bloom, 17), symbolizing the realization of his stagnant existence. That a more prolific life exists is the advertence of Hesiod's Works and Days – a description of rural life (Department of Literature). Prufrock's works and days are not deeds of heroism, but a "hundred indecisions" (32) (Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol 6, 163). The "overwhelming question" is from The Pioneers by James Fenimore – a book Eliot adored since childhood (Lozano). Eliot exerts an element of parody as a type of chorus from Laforgue who wrote "In the room the women come and go/Talking of the masters of the Sienne School" (Lozano). "And indeed there will be time" (Lozano), and "squeezed the universe into a ball" (Bloom, 18), from Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress. From Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Eliot uses "a dying fall" (Lozano) a comparison to Hamlet and Polonius. Prufrock sees himself not like Hamlet, but like the fool who advises others (Bloom, 20). A comparison of Lazarus from the Gospels, who rose from the dead to tell a revelation (Bloom, 19). T. S. Eliot uses women, pollution, and landscapes to symbolize corruption and rejection from his society. "In the room the women come and go"(13-14). The room captures the tediousness of high society, which is boring, and the women conversing of Michelangelo are detached (Bloom, 17-18). Prufrock feels subordinate to a man with such considerable ability, great activity and fervent grip upon life. This is the antithesis of Prufrock's passivity and accentuates the doldrum of the fashionable, shallow world Prufrock presents. Yellow fog (15) is representative of the creeping choking, atmosphere of the spiritual fog that prevails in Prufrock and his fellow men. This fog seeps within each orifice – draws him mesmerizingly into its passionless – devoid hex. Also emblematic to the etherized patient, the fog intimates the lethargic aspect of his life. Ascending a staircase in Eliot's handicraft customarily intimates affectuating a spiritual labor (Gordon, 138). Prufrock is consistently a suspect of his calling and is conscious that he will "turn back and descend the stair" (39). The universe that Prufrock declaims in "Do I dare/ Disturb the Universe" (45-46) is his social life and if he were to query the "overwhelming question" (10) to one of the women, it might disturb their social clique (Gordon, 46). The recurrences of passages connote the "circulatory thought process" that leads nowhere (Bloom, 18). Prufrock is limited to uttering a confession but yearns to sing a love song. The landscapes of the poem are envisioned representations of Prufrock himself. Eliot employs varying cityscape scenarios to manifest the permeating meaninglessness and unproductiveness coursing through the souls of his peers. Ravaged, empty back streets tout the barren trials of poverty while cheap hotels (6) and low class...
tracking img