The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

References to Hamlet


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Prufrock thinks he is not a Prince Hamlet figure, but a secondary character in life.

Prufrock shows a wise self-regard when he admits he is

not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;


Hamlet, Shakespeare's famous tragic hero from the play of the same name, is literature's other great indecisive man. Hamlet waffles between wanting to kill his stepfather and holding off for a variety of reasons. The allusion, then, is somewhat ironic, since Prufrock is not even as decisive as Hamlet is. Instead, he is more like the doddering Polonius of Hamlet (the "for you yourself, sir" quote from Hamlet 2.2.205-206, if the "ragged claws" [73] line alludes to it, is spoken by Hamlet to Polonius), or the conventional Shakespearean "Fool" (119).