J Alfred Prufrock

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Love, Lust or Lackluster Lifestyle?

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" demonstrates the effects of social and economic pressure in the life of a Victorian man. T.S. Eliot shows us, in an ironic monologue, how the reality of age and social position paralyzes his character with fear. The poem opens with six lines from Dante's "Infernio". This particular stanza explains that the speaker is in hell and the message can only be told to someone else in hell. The speaker tells us that it is OK for the listener to hear the message, since in order to hear you must already be in hell and no one ever returns from there. So the message will never leave. I believe Eliot uses this message to infer that only a reader who understands the loneliness and desperation of Prufrock can truly understand the poem. However, in my research, I have found as many different interpretations of the poem as I have found readers. Most agree; however, that Prufrock is speaking to the reader when he says "you and I"(Line 1). Many readers also agree that Prufrock is a lonely man, but what type of company he desires seems to vary greatly. Interpretations include sex, social company, long term love, and even death. I believe Prufrock yearns for the sense of belonging, both with a female and with his society. He struggles with issues of sex, age and social change. The beginning lines of the poem(1-25) paint for a very descriptive picture of the street where Prufrock is walking. It also alerts the reader of Prufrock's distaste for this area and this society. He describes it as "have deserted","muttering"."one-night cheap hotels" and "sawdust restaurants".(5-7) He contrasts that with his destination of a "room where women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo"(13&14). Prufrock doesn't give the reader much insight into his thoughts until line 26. From this line forward, we get a glimpse of what it must be like to be Prufrock. He tells us "There will be time, there will be...