The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

What part does the mermaid play in the poem?

The love song of j. alfred prufrock

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The movement in the final section of the poem swings from fairly concrete, realistic scenes from the social world - "After the cups, the marmalade, the teaŠAfter the novels, and the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor" (88, 102) - to fantastic images of mermaids "riding seaward on the waves / Combing the white hair of the waves blown back" (126-127). Eliot's objective correlative grows more vague; what exactly does Prufrock feel here? Perhaps Prufrock himself is unsure: "It is impossible to say just what I mean! / But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen" (104-105). His own inarticulacy results in the magic lantern's wild kaleidoscopic imagery of teacups and mermaids; aside from desperation and loneliness, confusion is one of the objective correlative's main emotional associations.