The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

A Close Reading of T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is a modern journey into and dissection of the mind of a society man, J. Alfred Prufrock. Prufrock is pushed in two opposite directions by his desires: his desire to have the favor of the woman he admires from afar, and his desire to protect himself from rejection. This theme of division and opposites is seen throughout the poem, and even its protagonist's name can be seen as an example of this-- his last name, "Prufrock," can be read two ways. Read as "Pru-frock," the name is suggestive of a certain weakness; the two words that come to mind are "prudish/prudence" and "frock," which suggest a womanly, restricted character. Read another way, "Pruf-rock," the name suggests a manly, solid character. The poem builds inexorably to the "overwhelming question", whether or not Prufrock will be able to conquer his fear and act, to win the favor of the lady in question.

The opening phrase, in italics, is from "The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri," and it says, to paraphrase, "If I knew these words would or could be repeated, I would not say them." This serves to perhaps put the reader into...

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