The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Unreachable Prufrock

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is at once a comic poem as well as a trenchant satire on the low aspects of urban life. Its speaker, a man going bald and self-conscious about his every gesture, represents a sexual as well as spiritual sterility that, by the end, the audience realizes is impossible to overcome. The poem proceeds not in a logical fashion, but in a stream of consciousness, where ideas are only loosely connected and there seems to be no beginning or end. This lack of direction and lack of a coherent time sequence continues until the line "I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled", in which the tone of the speaker becomes more assertive but nevertheless does not provide a sense of finality. Even the metaphors in the poem compare vaguely related things, and forces images into each other to create an overall sense of disjunction and chaos. T.S. Eliot's judicious use of slant and internal rhymes further convince the audience that the character of J. Alfred Prufrock, a character with but "a name and a voice" (Bergonzi 17), is immutably unreachable, despite his carefully groomed exterior.

From the very beginning, the audience is reminded that there is no way out of the world...

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