The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The (Modernist) Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock demonstrates several Modernist ideas. In particular, by frequently employing imagery, repetition, alliteration, assonance, rhetorical questions and references, creatively shaping lines and sentences and weaving in ambiguity and uncertainty in his words, Eliot includes Modernist characteristics in his work. Thematically, there is also a focus on the individual and its clash with society and social pressures, the city and modern living and a rejection of Romanticism and Victorianism that leads the poem towards the discordant. Nearly a century later, these innovative themes still find relevance.

Through his Modernist images, discontinuous free verse, classical and literary allusions and repetition, Eliot exposes the conflict between the individual and society and the emphasis on the individual. For example, the opening line of the poem, "Let us go then, you and I" (Eliot line 1)encompasses “a self-aware contentiousness and questioning." The intentional ambiguity of “you and I” is repeated regularly throughout the poem. The phrase is especially important in showing that Prufrock, the persona and the “I”, is surrendering himself to the guidance of the objective “you”,...

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