T.S. Elliot's 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,' is a melancholy poem of one man's frustrated search to find the meaning of his existence. The speaker's strong use of imagery contributes to the poems theme of communion and loneliness.
The Poem begins with an invitation from Prufrock to follow him through his self-examination. The imagery of this invitation begins with a startling simile, 'Let us go then you and I/ When the evening is spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherised upon a table.' This simile literally describes the evening sky, but functions on another level. Prufrock's description of the 'etherised' evening indicates an altering of perception, and an altering of time, which creates a dreamlike quality throughout the poem. This dreamlike quality is supported throughout the poem with the 'yellow fog' that contributes to the slowed-down-etherised feeling of the poem. Time and perception are effectively 'etherised' in this poem.
It is almost as if the poem is a suspended moment of realization of one man's life, 'spread out against the sky'. The imagery of the patient represents Prufrock's self-examination. Furthermore, the imagery of the 'etherised patient' denotes a person waiting for treatment. It seems this treatment will be Prufrock's examination of himself and his life.
Prufrock repeats his invitation and asks the reader to follow him through a cold and lonely setting that seems to be the Prufrock's domain. The imagery of the journey through the city is described as pointed to lead the reader (and more accurately Prufrock) to an overwhelming question. Prufrock's description of the urban city is quite dreary: ' Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,/ The muttering retreats/ Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels/ And sawdust restaurants with oyster shells;/ Streets that follow like a tedious argument/ Of...