J Alfred Prufrock

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Comment on the significance of the title “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” First look at the title of the poem and there is an arousal of an expectation in the mind of every reader of it being a love narrative. Indeed the poem begins with a typical invitation to the reader to come and join the narrator. “Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky” What follows is an image which assassinates the expectations of every reader. “Like a patient etherised upon a table;” Indeed an act of merciless subversion of the expectation which continues all throughout the poem. Irony is apparent from the title, for this is not a conventional love song. The mixture of the levity and seriousness immediately confronts the reader. Together with the title, the epigraph prepares the reader for the experience of the poem. The poem opens with a quoted passage from Dante’s Inferno, suggesting that Prufrock is one of the damned and that he speaks only because he is sure no one will listen. Prufrock’s split self is further explained in the epigraph. The contradictions of the title signal towards an identity-crisis. There is a sense of insecurity and therefore the full name “J. Alfred Prufrock.” The use of the full name also adds a very formal and business-like tone to it. He wants to hide his personal self. Prufrock is a fragmented character who is struggling to find an identity of his own. “Pru” suggests someone who’s disciplined, prosaic and prudent. “Frock” on the other hand, suggests someone who is effeminate, frivolous and a non-intellectual. There is no sense of thrill in the whole poem. The first image created in the minds of the reader is that of a silent evening. The next is that of a patient etherised on a table. The Romantics had the notion that the “evening” is healing in nature. It nourishes the soul. Eliot breaks this notion by associating evening...
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