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Love Song of Prufrock

In: English and Literature

Submitted By kkemp
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In his dramatic monologue, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot explores the timeless issues of love and self-awareness - popular themes in literature. However, through his use of Prufrock's profound self-consciousness he skews the reader's expectations of a Love Song and takes a serious perspective on the subject of love, which many authors do, but few can create characters as deep and multi-layered as Prufrock; probably the reason that this poem still remains, arguably, Eliot's most famous. The beginning of the poem is pre-empted by an excerpt from Dante's Inferno which Eliot uses to create the poem's serious tone, but also to begin his exploration of Prufrock's self-consciousness. By inserting this quote, a parallel is created between Prufrock and the speaker, Guido da Montefeltro, who is very aware of his position in hell and his personal situation concerning the fate of his life. Prufrock feels much the same way, but his hell and the fate of his life are more in his own mind and have less to do with the people around him. The issue of his fate leads Prufrock to an overwhelming question...(10) which is never identified, asked, or answered in the poem. This question is associated somehow to his psyche, but both its ambiguity to the reader and Prufrock's denial to even ask What is it?(11) gives some insight into his state of internal turmoil and inability to reason. Prufrock's dissatisfaction in his personal appearance is one, but not the most important of his idiosyncrasies. Not only is he unhappy with the nature of his appearance, having To Prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; but he is fearful of what others will have to say about him: (They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!')(41) and (... ‘But how his arms and legs are thin!')(44). Prufrock is insecure and frightened of peoples' reactions to his balding head and slim, aging body....

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