"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" T.S. Eliot's Portrayal of Personal Failure & Inadequacy

Essay by randyjbcA+, April 2006

download word file, 6 pages 0.0

Downloaded 64 times

The title of Eliot's poem immediately puts an end to any real suggestion that it has a romantic side. Indeed, the very name of the character implies that he is a rather obscure fellow, in fact a total non-entity.

As the first stanza begins, the opening two lines seem fairly innocuous in their description of the evening sky, but any further thoughts the reader might have regarding what is - after all - supposed to be a love song, are soon dissipated by the flat reality of line 3:

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

This line is far from romantic, at least in the normal sense of the word, and the following lines which allude to 'muttering retreats', 'cheap hotels' and streets which 'follow like a tedious argument of insidious intent' do little to equate the poem with love and romance of any description. The final question towards the end of the verse provides the reader with very little in the way of an explanation, and one gets the impression that Prufrock is experiencing some form of inner turmoil.

Eventually, the flowing pace of the poem becomes sharply lessened as two very interesting lines follow the end of the first verse:

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

By employing such a method, Eliot has introduced the inadequacy of his character, cutting short Prufrock's diatribe about the vulgarity of his existence and using a simply rhyming couplet in order to smear his character with an image of pure despair. Such despair, in this case, is clearly born of inaction and Prufrock is wondering how on earth he can possibly impress upon middle-class society.

The second verse makes use of an intriguing metaphor in order to draw a comparison between the evening fog and...