You are watching: Themes in the lovesong of j alfred prufrock
The overwhelming question: Prufrock nods come an "overwhelming question" that haunts his thoughts however never explicitly names it.The condition of modernity: Eliot traces the differences in between early modernity, as stood for by Shakespeare"s personality Hamlet, and late modernity, as represented by Prufrock. Prufrock"s existence is presented to be banal by comparison.The crisis of mortality: Prufrock feels his very own mortality looming over him. He longs for more time yet cannot say specifically why.
critical Updated ~ above February 25, 2021, through bsci-ch.org Editorial. Indigenous Count: 377
Although T. S. Eliot is just one of the most prominent English-language poet the the 20th century, his work has from the start hosted a call for gift obtuse, fussily erudite, and even downright bizarre. For all of these qualities, T. S. Eliot’s poetry constantly explores deep thematic terrain. Therefore, readers can grasp “The Love tune of J. Alfred Prufrock” by examining the themes discover in the poem, specific the condition of modernity, the tension in between mundanity and meaning, and the situation of mortality.
The “Overwhelming Question”
Perhaps the main thematic and also tonal stress and anxiety in the city is between the mundane, day-to-day human being Prufrock inhabits and the internal human being in i beg your pardon his spiritual situation unfolds. The mundane people is London, both seedy and dainty, full of “one-night cheap hotels,” “the soot that drops from chimneys,” and also “the cups, the marmalade, the tea.” The internal civilization is where Prufrock shows on his experiences and considers daring to ask the “overwhelming question” that looms end his thoughts... (Read an ext on The "Overwhelming Question.")
The condition of Modernity
As both a poet and critic, T. S. Eliot investigated Western social history. Eliot was an especially interested in modern history, which starts with the Renaissance in the 15th century. Indigenous his 20th-century vantage point, Eliot to be of the opinion the Western culture is in a state of decrease and as such that early on modernity (the 15th through 18th centuries) surpasses late modernity (the 18th century onward). “The Love tune of J. Alfred Prufrock” reflects Eliot’s see on these social and historical trends... (Read more on The condition of Modernity.)
The dilemm of Mortality
Prufrock encounters the risk and an enig of time. In the poem’s early on passages, Prufrock repeats to self the reassuring refrain, “And indeed there will be time.” yet beneath Prufrock’s test calm, the understands the time is an antagonist, a pressure that will attract him closer come his ultimate destiny. The menace of mortality an initial rears the head once Prufrock cases to have “Time come turn earlier and descend the stair, / with a bald clues in the center of mine hair…” The declare is nominally true yet essentially false; v his hair thinning, Prufrock does not have a an excellent deal the time... (Read an ext on The crisis of Mortality.)
last Updated ~ above February 23, 2021, by bsci-ch.org Editorial. Indigenous Count: 310
Perhaps the main thematic and also tonal tension in the poem is in between the mundane, day-to-day world Prufrock inhabits and also the internal civilization in i beg your pardon his spiritual dilemm unfolds. The mundane human being is London, both seedy and also dainty, full of “one-night cheap hotels,” “the soot that falls from chimneys,” and “the cups, the marmalade, the tea.” The internal world is whereby Prufrock reflects on his experiences and also considers daring come ask the “overwhelming question” the looms end his thoughts.
The division between the physical and metaphysical dimensions of Prufrock’s life is significant for numerous reasons. It marks Prufrock’s detachment native his surroundings, which float v his awareness, dreamlike and also disordered, altered as they space by his imagination. The division is important, too, in the means it to produce a comparison that accentuates his spirituality angst, such as once Prufrock wonders,And would it have been worth it, after ~ all,After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,Would it have been precious while,To have actually bitten turn off the matter with a smile,To have actually squeezed the universe right into a ballTo roll it in the direction of some overwhelming question…
The contrast in between the bric-a-brac that tea and porcelain and also the “overwhelming question” produce a keep in mind of comedic lightness if underlining the basic gravity of Prufrock’s situation. Finally, the gulf in between Prufrock’s inner and outer people creates a difficulty of communication. That finds that “It is impossible to say simply what i mean!” given the strongness of his within crisis and also the frivolity the the social world approximately him, Prufrock stays trapped in his condition of solitary questioning and yearning. His “overwhelming question” is left unmasked and also unasked, and the mundane world rolls onward in its day-to-day course. This central tension—between definition and mundanity, between inner and also outer experience—is never resolved.
critical Updated on may 8, 2020, through bsci-ch.org Editorial. Native Count: 393
As both a poet and critic, T. S. Eliot investigated Western social history. Eliot was an especially interested in contemporary history, which starts with the Renaissance in the 15th century. Indigenous his 20th-century vantage point, Eliot was of the opinion that Western culture is in a state of decline and thus that early on modernity (the 15th v 18th centuries) surpasses late modernity (the 18th century onward). “The Love tune of J. Alfred Prufrock” mirrors Eliot’s see on these cultural and historical trends.
One home window into Eliot’s diagnosis of 20th-century Western society is the explicit comparison J. Alfred Prufrock draws in between himself and the eponymous character of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, written three centuries earlier. Eliot suggests that Prufrock’s feeble, self-conscious, unheroic personality is the product of a superficial contemporary culture. ~ all, in his view, 20th-century modernity is a degraded variation of the early modern-day era that produced Prince Hamlet.
Still, Hamlet and also Prufrock have details issues in common. Both are indecisive and also struggle to take action, both feeling alienated from the people roughly them, and both express discontent v the volume of language come “say just what
Eliot implies that the difference between Hamlet and Prufrock is mainly one of society context. Something has actually been shed in the three-hundred years between the 2 characters. As soon as he says, “I have seen the moment of mine greatness flicker,” Prufrock is additionally speaking as the voice that modernity itself. The not simply Prufrock however 20th-century modernity that is “cautious, meticulous…
last Updated ~ above February 23, 2021, by bsci-ch.org Editorial. Indigenous Count: 419
Prufrock deals with the danger and secret of time. In the poem’s early on passages, Prufrock repeats to self the reassuring refrain, “And without doubt there will be time.” however beneath Prufrock’s test calm, he understands that time is one antagonist, a force that will draw him closer to his can be fried destiny. The menace of mortality very first rears its head when Prufrock insurance claims to have actually “Time come turn earlier and descend the stair, / with a bald clues in the center of my hair.” The declare is nominally true but essentially false; through his hair thinning, Prufrock walk not have a great deal of time.
Prufrock ultimately confronts time and mortality once he claims to “have viewed the moment of mine greatness flicker, / and also I have seen the eternal Footman host my coat, and snicker, / and also in short, ns was afraid.” with his illusions no much longer supportable, Prufrock acknowledges the truth: that the “eternal Footman” of death is wait for him, and also that that is fear of it.
By the finish of the poem, Prufrock seems to have actually nearly adopted the fact of his coming death. He even makes a song of it, turning his mortality into a refrain—“I prosper old… I grow old…”—to winter his prior stop of denial—“there will be time.” One could argue the the final lines that the city depict the fulfillment of Prufrock’s unavoidable death:We have lingered in the chambers the the seaBy sea-girls wreathed through seaweed red and brownTill human being voices wake us, and also we drown.
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The last image that drowning, however, most likely occurs in Prufrock’s imagination, as does the sirenic scene the surrounds it. For this reason the secret concerns who, or what, drowns. Whereas many of the poem takes the shape of a first-person monologue, Prufrock expands the scope of subjecthood come “we” in these final three lines. Eliot—via Prufrock—may be including readers here, suggesting that the reading of the poem is a dreamlike task akin come “linger
To arrive at the finish of the city is to be woken up and also thus to “drown” in the following return come reality. In this light, Prufrock is no the only figure in the poem to endure a sort of mortality. The ending broadens the topic of death to include and implicate readers as well. Also though the poem is an individual portrait the Prufrock, everyone deserve to recognize his dilemm of mortality due to the fact that everyone is subject to the i of time.
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