12 November, 2012
The Depressing Poem of J. Alfred Prufrock
Historically love songs were romantic songs written by young men to young women in order to court them. These love songs often contained an aura of sensuality and grace that emphasized passion, youthfulness, life and heroics. T.S. Elliot’s poem, ironically titled “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, simply does not follow this classic formula. J. Alfred Prufrock, the protagonist of the poem, is not the epitome of physical attractiveness, boldness and passion. Instead he is a man who wallows in his self-pity over his failure in life. T.S. Elliot uses symbols, allusions, imagery ...view middle of the document...
“The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window panes…” (line 23). The yellow fog is symbolic of Prufrock. Like the window panes that keeps the fog from entering the building, Prufrock’s age and pessimism keeps him from entering a meaningful relationship. “I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas” (70-71). Prufrock finds his social situation so hopeless that it would have been better if he was not even a human. Instead it may have been better if he was a more solitary creature such as a crab crawling along the abyss of the ocean. Furthermore, every physical description that Prufrock gives of himself casts his appearance as unattractive in his eyes. Prufrock is balding, he is getting shorter, his limbs are shrinking, and his clothes no longer fit. Prufrock’s physical appearance is a vital part of the poem because if Prufrock aged gracefully and was physically attractive, the pity and sympathy the reader would have for Prufrock would not be as strong.
T.S. Elliot repeats certain phrases that outline Prufrock’s hesitancy to change his life and highlights Prufrock’s lack of confidence in himself.. In lines twenty three through thirty four, T.S. Elliot repeats the word “time.” “And indeed there will be time…time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of toast and tea”(23-34). Although Prufrock points out that there is physically enough time to integrate a relationship into his life, the time is wasted on his lack of decisiveness and his obsessive concern for the results of his actions. Prufrock is constantly indecisive throughout the poem. He is not a bold and heroic individual who enters a situation head first and he constantly changes his mind. “For decisions and revisions...