The narrator describes a modern city as he is walking through it. He describes the street scene and twice talks about women talking about Michelangelo. He is too afraid to confront them and talk to them, and keeps insisting that there will be time. He describes yellow smoke and fog outside the house of the gathering. Prufrock talks about his social behavior, worrying over how others will see him. For example he is worried that the women will make fun of him because he is going bald. He keeps talking about the women and features about them that he know so well, but still cannot think of a way to confront them. He walks through the streets and watches lonely men leaning out their windows. He seems to be scared of turning into one of those lonely men. At line 85 he finally admits that he is afraid to talk to them.
After Prufrock's chance of talking to the women passes he wonders if it would have been worthwhile to act, even if it resulted in a woman's rejection of him. He says that he does not see himself as a Prince Hamlet figure, but as a lower character. Profrock starts to talk about dressing and acting younger in fear of growing old. By the beach, he sees images of mermaids singing and swimming. The poem depicts the anxiety of Profrock as he decides whether or not to talk to a woman. It depicts his lack of self-confidence, and his fear of being rejected.