The Idea Of Alienation In The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

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“Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering- and it’s all over much too soon” (Woody Allen). We were all told from a young age of what we should want in our future. Whether it was told by parents, teachers, television, or the internet they all had the same goal in mind. Society put an image in our minds of having a job that you love, a big house, the perfect car, and most importantly a family. Everyone grows up and wants to have a spouse that they can grow old with and their own kids that they can play with in the front yard. They want their kids to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. But what if… they didn’t have anyone? What if life didn’t turn out how they hoped it would? Eliot explores the idea of going against society by exploring the idea of loneliness. The poem was published in 1915 and truly left its impact on people’s opinions and truly helped change the landscape of poetry. Prufrock mourns his physical and scholarly dormancy, the lost open doors throughout his life and absence of spiritual advancement, and he is haunted by notices of unattained erotic love. ‘Prufrock’ was a standout amongst the most recognizable voices in present day writing. In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, T. S. Eliot uses repetition, personification, and similes to demonstrate that people are often alienated from others because of their lack of social skills and their inability to sustain relationships.

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In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, T. S. Eliot uses repetition to demonstrate that people are often alienated from others because of their lack of social skills and their inability to sustain relationships. The usage of repetition brings together the separate parts of the poem together to make everything seem connected. This poem was often Called “The first Modernist Poem” and showed up in the Harvard Advocate in 1906 while Eliot was trying to finish college and earn his bachelor’s degree. It was not published until 1915 though by the American journal Poetry. The use of repetition is shown in the quote, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a shifting, repetitive monologue, the thoughts of a mature male as he searches for love and meaning in an uncertain, twilight world.” It could be said that his use of repetition is used so much because the man has the same feelings of loneliness repeatedly. Repetition is used in the lines 1, 4, 12 when it reads, “LET us go then, you and I… Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets…. Let us go and make our visit”. These lines help give the poem a sense of romance. He again repeats for someone to come along with him upon his journey. The use of repetition is shown in, “The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes/ The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes”. The tone and word choice being used resembles that actions and qualities of a cat. The cat is metaphorically constructed by the yellow fog and seems broken and unnatural. Yellow is literary means with delight, satisfaction, energy and represents respect and honor. But in this poem yellow seems to represent alertness, disease, and jealousy. Repetition is shown once again when it reads, “To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”. The line creates feelings of hatred and seriousness. It’s an exaggeration of the depth of his own fear and even though he repeats that there is still time for all these thoughts, the situation is still despairing. Throughout the poem a feeling of reality and sureness, making the reader feel just as they ought to be careful about his considerations

In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, T. S. Eliot uses personification to demonstrate that people are often alienated from others because of their lack of social skills and their inability to sustain relationships. The speaker’s poor ability to create and sustain a relationship makes him play out a conversation in his mind. These conversations consist of parts of his past that are extremely personal that he doesn’t care to connect them into a reasonable flow. Personification is shown when it reads, “The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes/ The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes/ Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,/ Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains/ Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys/ Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap/ And seeing that it was a soft October night/ Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.” The smoke has the animal characteristics of a cat as it tries to get into a house by any means necessary. The yellow fog just wanted to be in something that was warm and was a place that is supposed to keep things safe. The fog is cold and alone outside of the house and wants to see the other side of that window.

The use of personification in the poem is shown in, “And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!”. The afternoon and evening are ‘sleeping,’ just like the fog was asleep outside the house. The speaker is hesitant to wake up “the afternoon and the evening” because the day was sound asleep. The use of personification is used for depth on the detail of an object/feeling. The use of personification makes an increasingly nitty gritty and in-depth perception.

In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, T. S. Eliot uses similes to demonstrate that people are often alienated from others because of their lack of social skills and their inability to sustain relationships. The speaker repeatedly repeats questions to himself furthering the point of his loneliness. The main cause of his alienation is his low self-esteem, making him feel self-conscious by others that he is believing if he might not deserve better, if he does not set his goals too low. He is so deeply engaged in his hopelessness, so horrifically alienated, that he doubts even the first fundamental action to bridge the gap between someone else and himself: eye contact. The use of similes is shown in the lines, “When the evening is spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherized upon a table”. In this simile the night is being compared to a sedated person. When a person is sedated they go into a sleep-like form and time remains still as your thoughts venture off into things never imaginable. It seems as if the speaker is always in the state as if he is always sedated. Another use of the simile is shown in, “Streets that follow like a tedious argument/ Of insidious intent”. In this simile, the streets are compared to a ‘tedious argument’ that ambiguously makes people completely lost. An ‘argument’ is a line of rationale–for example, in a debate class student are presented with an argument and must choose a side. Assertions are typically meant to answer questions, but this one leads just to ‘an immense question.’

Finally, the poem centers around the feelings and thoughts of Prufrock. Eliot interest in music is made evident in the title. He sets up analogies between himself and various familiar cultural figures. Prufrock can’t act upon his feelings and emotions and this is used in many of his famous works. Just because someone may seem strong on the outside, doesn’t mean they can’t emotionally weak and be able to comprehend relationships. In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, T. S. Eliot uses repetition, personification, and similes to demonstrate that people are often alienated from others because of their lack of social skills and their inability to sustain relationships. The attitude of this poem just seems hopeless. The speaker is a pathetic man who is too nervous to truly do what he wants. He believes that he still has time to do it but will soon be disappointed of the truth: Time Flies! 

16 August 2021

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