Modernism - T.S Eliot's Rhapsody on a Windy Night and Prufrock

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The 1900s was a period of increasing industrialization of which society saw a growing sense of disillusionment. TS Eliot conveys aspects of modernism through his poems Love Song by J. Alfred Prufrock and Rhapsody on a Windy Night, such as the increasing alienation of society, the loss of identity and the dismissal of functional traditional conventions. Eliot achieves this through the prevalent themes of time and memory, and the depiction of the urban environment.

The isolation of individuals within society was a key feature of Modernism, and was suggested by man’s uncertainty and lack of direction, therefore leading to the inability to take initiative. Prufrock in Eliot’s piece Love Song by J. Alfred Prufrock is portrayed as being a self-conscious, indecisive individual in an Upper class setting. In the beginning of the piece Eliot had included an extract from Dante’s Inferno. Eliot used this piece in Prufrock’s “love song” as if he is taking the audience on a journey through his own living hell, which is his Reality. Prufrock’s trapped state is further reinforced by the image of “a patient, etherized upon a table”, suggesting his alive yet unconscious state. The description of the sky contrasted harshly with the traditional romantic image of an immobilized patient that has no control on their movements. In the poem Prufrock asks both trivial and significant questions, however none of these are answered, and Prufrock himself states that he is “no prophet”, showing the audience his uncertainty. His inability to act on his thoughts is conveyed as he constantly reassures the audience (and himself) that “there will be time”, however the repetition of this sentence instead implies the opposite; he has run out of time instead. The extended metaphor that calls Prufrock an insect, “pinned and wriggling”, suggests his vulnerability and the feeling of being trapped.

Similarly, in Rhapsody on a Windy Night, Eliot shows sympathy for the more unfortunate individuals that

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