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The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

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1 The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock
By T.S. Eliot

2 Published in 1915, Prufrock is an examination of the prototypical modern man. Prufrock is over-educated, eloquent and emotionally stilted. Prufrock addresses the ‘You and I’ (the audience) about his potential lover and forcing a moment to “it’s crisis”. Prufrock knows too much about life and its inevitable disappointments to ‘dare’ approach the woman.

3 In his mind he hears the comments others make about his perceived inadequacies- his receding hair line, his thin arms etc… Format The poem is delivered as a dramatic monologue, a fictional speech from a fictional character, much like a soliloquy in a play

4 1: The poem is a specific utterance of an individual (Prufrock)
2: It is directed to an inferred listener (us) 3: The focus is the revelation of the speakers character The ‘Epigraph’ from Dante’s Inferno describes his ideal listener: someone who will hear his woes but never repeat them. The listener is unable to repeat them because they are dead and trapped in hell.

5 Rhyme Scheme- The rhyme is irregular but not random! The scheme is carefully constructed with the use of refrains- “In the room…. “How should I presume?... “That is not it all…” Conclusion The conclusion is a comparison to Shakepeare’s Hamlet and the idea of a tragic hero. That rather than being a hero, he is insignificant, ‘Fifth Business’ in his own life!

6 Prufrock Analysis Epigram: is Dante’s Inferno- the audience of like-minded individuals who will never tell of his insecurity and secrets. You! 1: The invitation: “you and I” A metaphorical invitation to walk the dark streets- lonely and isolated.

7 “patient etherized” Refrain: “One night hotels” “insidious intent” “overwhelming question” Seduced/medicated and easy to control! Women are modern/intellectual and independent SORDID sexual encounters, where is he taking you? It is implied that you understand!

8 “yellow Fog” “There will be time” “faces” Is cat like, alienated and vulnerable, like a ‘stray’ in society Why do it now when it can be done later- procrastination! Masks that disguise his true feelings!

9 “taking of toast and tea”
“Do I dare?” “Known them all” In polite society he feels a misfit. Insecure imaginings of how they talk about him. He has to make a choice- he is insecure and cowardly Measured and considered, a contrast to the above!

10 “sprawling on a pin” “shall I say” “I should have been a crab, scuttling…” Like a bug being studied/exhibited. Should he talk about his exploits, will they listen or laugh and think him crazy? This is true vision of himself, a ‘bottom feeder’ walking the floors of the ocean.

11 “…force the moment to its crisis…”
“..platter…” “eternal footman..” Should he act, is it worth it? Biblical allusion, John the Baptist’s head, brought to Herod’s wife (at her request) on a silver platter! Judgment- how will he be received at the gates of heaven?

12 “I am Lazarus..” “Prince Hamlet” The OT Biblical story of Lazarus and Dives. Lazarus came back to warn the people and no one would listen. What is his role in his own life? Key actor or support or comic relief?

13 “I grow old..” “mermaids” Images of old age, rolled trousers, eating a peach- no teeth! Enticing sailors to their death on the rocks- they sing to all but him, he is not worthy!

14 The title is ironic, this is not a love song, but for Prufrock we feel pity and angst. The modern man of the 1920’s is not heroic, in fact they are the opposite, a reaction to the events of WW1. You may mock his weakness as today’s standards contrast his ideas, but as a representative of the ‘emerging modern-man’ we see Prufrock as pathetic, not tragic.

15 We see a life not lived, paralleling characters in works like:
The Woman in This Poem. Bronwen Wallace The Great Gatsby. F Scott Fitzgerald The Hollow Men. T S Eliot Death of a Salesman. Arthur Miller


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