the love song of j.alfred prufrock by t.s. eliot
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The title is extremely ironic, and in that way connects to the main themes of the poem. The poem mainly details the disconnect between the romanticized upper class society in which J. Alfred Prufrock seems to be a part with the emptiness of a life built of repetition and meaningless ritual. For instance, the lines "in the room the women come and go/talking of Michaelangelo," detail a sort of behavior of learned society while suggesting contextually that the educated conversation is just a way to wile away the time, to measure life in "coffee spoons." So the title suggests that the poem operates in the romantic tradition of individual passion, which makes the indictment of emptiness all the more damning and affecting.
Forgot to mention: the absurdity of the name of the presumed main character also stresses the absurdity at the core of life that Eliot wishes to show.
In his poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", Eliot shows the sordid and aimless modern life. He shows the inner conflict, duality, disintegration and irresolution of the modern man. Eliot seems to say that modern life has been devoid of purpose and there is no spiritual direction. Thus although the title of the poem indicates a romantic love situation, it is used ironically by the Poet. Eliot does not sing any romantic love song in this poem. Rather his notion is quite anti-romantic. The ridiculous name Prufrock' is not entirely whimsical, it is said to have been derived from the name of a furniture dealer in St. Louis. Prufrock would like to speak of love to a woman, but he does not dare. A critical examination of the poem would reveal that it records Prufrock's recoil from love rather than his engagement in love.
The opening of the poem reveals the irony of title. Here Prufrock says,
"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
At first, such a proposal to a companion to go outside in a fine peaceful evening seems very romantic. But the comparison of evening with an etherized patient waiting to be operated is very striking. The image brings with it a sense of sickness, morbidity and gloom. In fact, it effectively conveys the state of Prufrock's mind. The poet mentions the sky and the evening to embody the inner psychology of the protagonist. Later in the poem we will come to know that the evening is a foggy evening which does not offer a romantic atmosphere to go to a walk. Prufrock is a middle-aged dandy who has seen much of the city life with its meaningless socializing and decadent values. He wants to make love with a lady but he does not have the mental courage to disclose it. He is indecisive and passive, unable to take any initiative. His personal failure, together with his experience about life and _society, makes him totally frustrated. He wants to get relief from such a situation by taking a walk in the city.