The Love Song J. Alfred Prufolk
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a beautifully written, but yet somewhat sad poem by poet T. S.
Eliot. It tells the inner thoughts of a lonely man who is seeking love of a woman, but his own fear of rejection causes him to stray from following through with the action. The poem title itself is very ironic because the character himself is fearful, anti-heroic and unromantic. For someone who is in love, wants to find love, or wants to be in love they have to be courageous and willing to take whatever it brings even rejection.
It is clear that Prufrock is afraid of being rejected because in various lines of the poem we see that he builds up to ask a question then strays away into a different thought. What is unclear however is whether Prufrock is speaking to someone or talking to his inner thoughts. Early on in the poem Prufrock paints a scene that is very unpleasant, Prufrock describes his surrounding with phrases that indicate glum and depression. He describes the night as “restless’ and speaks of streets that follow like a tedious argument and also of the yellow frog.
All this imagery allows the reader to see Prufrock unhappiness with his surroundings; just as he is with being alone. The feeling of boredom with his life somewhat presents itself in lines 50-52, because he says he has “known them all already, known them all-have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons. ” One gets the feeling that Prufrock seems to feel that his life is over and has nothing more to possibly offer. Prufrock makes many references to time in lines 27-35, he claims there is time to “meet faces”, “murder and create”, have a “hundred indecisions” and a “hundred visions and revisions”.
From this I gathered that he wishes he would have taken advantage of time and possibly done some things in his life differently. In lines 70-75 makes references of walking through narrow streets at dusk and watching as lonely men lean out of windows smoking in shirtless sleeves, there is a disappointing tone in which Prufrock says this that allows one infer that he himself does not to be like these men. He also speaks about being a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of the silent seas imply himself being a crab which is also a bottom feeder of trash etc.
I believe the statement about being a crab maybe an implication of how he feels he lacks any real importance. Prufrock follows these lines with the talk of strength to force the moment to crisis. This “moment of crisis” statement makes readers mind wonder what exactly the crisis may be. It has been argued by a few critics such as Charles Walcutt and Bruce Hayman on whether Prufrock does indeed want to marry. In lines70-75, Walcutt argues that this is an attempt to formulate a proposal of marriage that will soften the lady’s hearty with pity.
I do agree with this because it already seems that Prufrock is indeed desperate to have love and is willing to say anything that will persuade this woman of his interest to accepts his proposal. Walcutt continues his argument with the line “strength to force the moment of crisis. ” Walcutt says that Prufrock abandons his proposal due to his fear of ridicule, this I partly agree with. I believe that Prufrock is afraid making this proposal in front of these people at the party; the thought of a public proposal makes him nervous.
However I partly agree because Prufrock worries about the woman possibly mocking him or even laughing at him in his face, this could be due to the fact that Prufrock himself does not know this woman very well and is fact basing his decision of a proposal of a mere infatuation. However Bruce Hayman sets up a different type of argument as to Prufrock really is and whether he does want to be married. Hayman infers that the poem may be in which a young Prufrock desires to sexually proposition, while the older Prufrock is interested in marriage.
Hayman first make his argument by using the title, he says “A Love Song” is usually sung to someone whom you know well and with whom you are in love. “Love” is more closely associated with marriage then one-night encounters. I do with this point that Hayman has made when you are in love with someone you are likely to sing a love song or even to write a poem to them expressing such love. The fact that Prufrock is looking for love and has not really made any attempts to approach this woman makes no sense as to why the poem title has the words “Love song” in it.
Hayman further continues with his argument by proposing that Prufrock may be indeed looking for a sexual rendezvous rather than a marriage. Hayman says, “If Prufrock were trying to make a marriage proposal, he would know the female fairly well, well enough that her presence would be a figure in his imagination. ” I agree with this completely, a man that is interested in proposing to a woman would at least know the woman’s name. Throughout the whole poem there is never a mention of this woman’s name, it seems more as if he saw this woman and had an immediate sexual attraction to her rather than an emotional one.
Hayman makes his second by pointing out that the two have never spent any time together, except for the fact that she allows him to be alone with her while she lounges on pillows on the floor. This makes the actions between the two seem more like a sexual affair between strangers than it does between lovers who are lounging around their home also the fact that throughout the poem Prufrock focuses more on physical of this woman, such as things she is wearing like the bracelet, shawl. His focus is on everything just below the neck, never does he mention any of her facial features.
Usually in a poem especially one that uses the terms love there is talk of the eyes, lips or even hair. Critic Leon Waldoff makes his argument of the bases off Prufrock’s fear of love. Waldoff says that there are two fears that Prufrock faces that causes him not to follow through with any of his actions. Waldoff says Prufrock’s hesitation to ascend the stair where the “woman come and go talking of Michelangelo” and his repeated questions, “Do I dare? ” “So how should I presume? ” “And how should I begin? reflects his fear of acting on his desires and his fear is the reason he exaggerates the consequences of self-assertion. I agree with that fact that Prufrock not ascending the stairs where the woman he holds interest in is a fear of acting on his desires. I feel that if you want someone bad enough your fears would push you further. Waldoff Prufrock’s second fear is that his impulse may overwhelm him. I agree that this may in fact be another fear Prufrock has, I believe with him putting so much thought on when and where to approach this woman may cause desires to get ahead of him causing them to eventually capitulate him.
Throughout the poem T. S. Eliot uses a few literary terms such I believe that Eliot uses literary terms into the poem to make it more interesting and to make the reader think deeper; to actually scratch below the surface. Eliot uses alliteration for “When the wind blows the water white and black”, “When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherised upon a table”,(simile) and in line 120 he uses the “peach” as a personification because the shape of the peach is looks like a butt.