T.S. Eliot and the Objective Correlative

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Kyle Mootry
Charles DeShong
American Lit. II
4/24/2013

T.S. Eliot is thoroughly viewed as one of the most significant poets of the twentieth century, and one of the most important writers of the modernist era. He hated traditional realism by responding against Romantic poetry. His collection of work was extremely experimental and he repeatedly deals with the views of symbolism and imagism in his poetry. America in the early part of the twentieth century was changing quickly and becoming more and more complex and the modernist authors and artists set out to prompt this in their works. Pound, Yeats, and Eliot, to name a couple, were all trying to ‘make it new’ and put a new spin on older genres of prose or art. Eliot used this idea of objective correlative, which was made famous by and also features in both ‘Prufrock’ and ‘Sweeney among the Nightingales’. It is a dominant factor of most of his poems. Eliot defined objective correlative as “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion.” There are numerous modernist features in 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,' such as the stream-of-consciousness method showing Prufrock’s disconnected thinking processes. This specific method lets the reader enter into the character’s consciousness. The poem presents the apparently random thoughts going through a person’s head within a certain time interval. The stream-of-consciousness makes it vague what is intended to be understood literally and what is figurative. Prufrock’s thought processes change sharply as well as the themes under discussion. For example, the subject suddenly switches from very unimportant things such as his balding head or whether to eat a peach, to the much broader and expansive concept of time and the cosmos. Prufrock's several character qualities show him as a man whose chief anxiety is with the passing of time. Prufrock's fixation with how much longer he has to live is apparent in his...
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