The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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  • The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
    • Themes
      • Time
        • "There will be time, there will be time"
          • Repetition of this phrase suggests that Prufrock is attempting to pursuade us, and possibly himself, that there is enough time. For what though? The "Overwhelming question" maybe.
        • Confusion of the past present and future.
          • Begins with lines 57-61 but is also hinted at in line 50
        • "I grow old … I grow old …"
          • "Combing the white hair of the waves"
      • Love
      • Apprearences
        • "With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—[They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!"]"
          • Prufrock is very concerned with his appearance to society.
            • Links to Epigraph
        • Prufrock is a trend-follower as he wears normal dress for the time:
          • Modernism
            • Unhappiness with society and the way that things are changing
              • London
        • "And I have known the eyes already, known them all—The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,"
          • "And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall"
            • Prufrock is concerned of judging eyes and doesn't want to be looked at like a lab specimin or a museum piece that is "sprawling on a pin."
            • Maybe Prufrock is scared of being examined in case people find out what he is really like. Link to Epigraph.
      • Self Doubt
        • ""Do I dare?" Time to turn back and descend the stair"
          • Meaning
            • Title
              • "Love song" has romantic connotations. "Song" meant poem in these times.
            • "You"
              • The you is slightly ambiguious but is probably addressing someone that Prufrick loves, hense the title.
                • "Love song" has romantic connotations. "Song" meant poem in these times.
                • Could be referring to us, the readers
            • Lines
              • 4-7
                • Implies that modernism is Hell as Prufrock takes us through a modern city in a red-light district
                  • Modernism
                    • Unhappiness with society and the way that things are changing
                      • London
              • 49-54
                • Prufrock seems to be trying to impress us here but his life can be measured in "coffee spoons," so it isn't really impressive at all.
                • Prufrock hears music from a distant room. There is a shakespeare refrence to Twelfth night, in witch could suggest that Prufrock can only experience love second hand, through the walls.
          • Prufrock has began to doubt himself. He descides not to ask the question yet and turns away, down the stairs
    • Form
      • Dramatic Monolouge
        • Where the speaker often reveals more than they intended to about themselves
          • Link to epigraph
      • Rhyming couplets
        • Makes the poem seem quite childish and sing-song like. Maybe Elliot is making fun of Prufrock?
        • Sometimes called "Heroic" couplets, which contrasts with the persona that Elliot has taken on as he's anything but heroic.
      • Iambic Pentameter
    • Context
      • Epigraph
        • Could suggest that the poem is about bad people pretending to be good and that the setting of the poem is "Hell."
        • Could suggest that Prufrock, like Guido from the Inferno, is concerned by his reputation and is scared to tell us things in case we repeat them to other people
          • Backed up by: "(They will say: 'How his hair is growing thin!')"
          • Backed up by "(They will say: ' But how his arms and legs are thin!')"
      • Influences
        • Shakespeare
          • Lines 111-119 discuss Hamlet and use Shakespeare-style features
            • Iambic Pentameter
        • Andrew Marvell
          • Lines 23-25 refer to Marvell's poem To His Coy Mistress. But rather than Prufrock thinking that there isn't enough time, as in THCM, he thinks there is plenty to waste.
            • Could link to Eliot's dislike of Modern society. Prufrock is talked about in quite a humiliating manner and Eliot may be trying to show that he thinks too much time is being wasted on the mundane things like "tea" rather than the more pressing "question"s in life.
    • Meaning
      • Title
        • "You"
          • The you is slightly ambiguious but is probably addressing someone that Prufrick loves, hense the title.
            • Could be referring to us, the readers
        • Lines
          • 4-7
            • Implies that modernism is Hell as Prufrock takes us through a modern city in a red-light district
            • 49-54
              • Prufrock seems to be trying to impress us here but his life can be measured in "coffee spoons," so it isn't really impressive at all.
              • Prufrock hears music from a distant room. There is a shakespeare refrence to Twelfth night, in witch could suggest that Prufrock can only experience love second hand, through the walls.
        • Symbolism and Imagery
          • Hamlet
            • Prufrock compares himself to Hamlet and then and "attendant lord," maybe more like Polonius.
              • Like Hamlet, he is really indecisive, so indecisive that an indecision is too decisive for him.
              • Comparing himself to an assistant lord implies that he does nothing but follow orders and act like a "Fool."
                • Link to Modernism?
          • Food and drink
            • Prufrock is always going on about food and drink. Lines 7, 34, 51, 81 and 89-90.
              • Could again link to Eliot's dislike of modernism and it's social constructs
              • Could also simply be that Eliot wanted to show how much Prufrock likes to distract himself from more pressing matters, with things like tea.
      • Eliot is mean towards Prufrock as he hates society
        • Prufrock is a trend-follower as he wears normal dress for the time:

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