Where Is This Place We are Taken?

Essay by dlb9258A, November 2004

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Where Is This Place We Are Taken?

In Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" the speaker Prufrock takes us to a place. Where is the place that Prufrock takes us? Prufrock takes us on a journey inside his mind. This journey passes through Prufrock's insecurities and his spiritual life. Prufrock begins this journey by telling us a passage from Dante's Inferno. The passage tells of a man that was in hell, and shares his story because he does not think that the one listening would ever go back to the world "because nobody ever escapes this pit" (Cervo 207). With no escape Prufrock is forced deeper by his short comings, wandering mind, and his own immortality, into the pit - his mind.

Even in the title of the poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," Prufrock does not give us his entire name, leaving his true identity in question.

By withholding his identity, Prufrock displays his reservation, and does not want us to ridicule or take advantage of him. Magnifying his insecurities, Prufrock compares himself to a known prophet in the Bible. The "J" placed at the beginning of Prufrock's name represents his association with John the Baptist. Prufrock states in the poem, "Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet." This shows that Prufrock is measuring his life by John the Baptist, who was killed for his faith. Though Prufrock does not feel he measures up to the standard set by the martyr, he fully identifies with the pain and ridicule of John the Baptist's public death (Cervo 1). For this reason, Prufrock shows hesitation to tell his story because he does not want to be ridiculed, laughed at, or much...