T.S. Eliot - the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Preludes - Modernism

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How has Eliot used both conventional and Modernist poetic techniques to represent his Modernist concerns?

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Preludes expresses Eliot’s Modernist concerns about the lack of morals and values in modern society through the use of personas within the urban landscape and the urban society. Modern man’s lifestyle of repetition of trivial tasks and the lack of meaningful things in life is represented and emphasised through the use of alliteration, metaphor, fragmentation and word choice.

The urban landscape is employed by Eliot in Preludes to demonstrate the isolated desertion of a modern city. The use of repetition in “the showers beat on broken blinds” emphasises the polluted, squalid environment and highlights the desolation of the city through the imagery of “a lonely cab-horse steams and stamps” at the corner of the street. Eliot metaphorically compares the city and lifestyle to a cigarette, “the burnt-out ends of smoky days” to show the people’s wasting of their lives, slowly burning out and the grime in which they live. Imagery, rhyme and word choice is used by Eliot to portray the overpowering nature of pollution, with even nature and the human spirit being corrupted: “the light crept up between the shutters and you heard the sparrows in the gutters” and the “sordid images” of the people’s souls. The metaphor of the morning coming to consciousness “of faint stale smells of beer” likens the city to an alcoholic, struggling to wake due to a hangover, emphasising the sordid nature of the modern landscape.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock also uses the urban landscape to express Eliot’s Modernist concerns of the lack of meaning and the slowly poisoning nature of modern life. Eliot personifies the city and streets of “muttering retreats” to emphasise the lack of individuality of the people, merging together with the city with no identity of their own. The simile of “streets that follow like a tedious argument of...
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