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In Eliot's "The Love Song of J.

Alfred Prufrock" (1917), the author presents a man on the verge of an emotional crisis who finds that his fear of humiliation and of committing a social faux pas prevent him from revealing to a woman the depth of his love for her. "There will be time," he remarks, "For a hundred indecisions, / And For a hundred visions and revisions," since he knows that he will change his mind a hundred times before doing anything so brave. He asks, "Do I dare / Disturb the universe" with his desire to be frank; since he is '"'no prophetand here's no great matter," since he is "not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be," he sees himself as insignificant, "an attendant lord, one that will do / To swell a progress, start a scene or two." The poem does not follow a logical order, but consists of various images appearing at random. The reader is taken on an imaginary journey of a dull and frustrated life by being shown flashes of it only. The tone is very pessimistic, full of resignation and irony. This approach is present in the title already: the romantic form of a love song implies great emotions, personality and perhaps passion. On the other hand, the name Prufrock, and the middle-aged, urban man behind it, represents the dullness and emptiness of modern societies. Apart from the very slight hints by few references to partnership, nothing in the poem speaks about love. Instead, we are introduced the doubts, uncertainity and lack of self-confidence of the speaker of the poem. The poem begins with an invitation by Prufrock to join him in his travels through a city that is growing increasingly modern, while Prufrock himself is afraid, or unable, to change with it. His description of the way he sees his environment can elucidate much about the character himself. He describes "cheap hotels," restaurants with sawdust on the floor, and frightening streets "that follow like a tedious argument / Of insidious intent". The fog creeps up on the street as if it were a cat. The yellow lamplight obscures more than it illuminates. If he is afraid of the modern world that awaits him, why does he wish to enter it? To Prufrock, this world offers him "an overwhelming question". The first stanza is followed by a couple of lines without any visible connection to the foregoing: In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo. The rhytm of the two lines and their second appearance later give them a refrain-like role. However, they only appear twice, painting a picture of the hectic but shallow life, which is the basic experience of the speaker. They are snapshots with no depth. The depressing image of the unhealthy autumn night in the city, which is described in the second stanza, is a symbol of sexuality. It is very interesting that here again we are not shown the positive aspects of partnership, such as conforming intimacy or redeeming passion. In contrast to the ideality of physical love, expressions like yellow fog and yellow smoke talk about heaviness. There is disgust haunting in the actions, too: rubs its back, rubs its muzzle and licked its tongue. The name "Prufrock" never appears in the poem, and instead the character asks himself if he should perhaps say he is Lazarus, and makes sure to mention that he is not Prince Hamlet. Prufrock is different than Hamlet in several ways. Hamlet, unlike Prufrock, is a man of action. He doesn't ask himself questions like "Do I Dare?" because the thought of whether he dare or not never occurs to him (Hammond 1). Hamlet is also very young and sure of himself, while Prufrock is neither of these. Hamlet and Prufrock do share, however, in attempting to express the "inexpressibly horrible" . Prufrock is a character obsessed with time, most likely because his is running out. He continually tells himself "there will be time" in order to rationalize his lack of action. To this point he has "measured out his life with coffee spoons" to make a futile attempt to hang on to every moment that passes, even if he doesn't do anything with the moments that he's been given. Prufrock is most likely middle aged, and going through his mid-life crisis, which Prufrock alludes to in line 80 by asking himself if he has "the strength to force the moment to its crisis?". By the end of the poem, Prufrock is imaging mermaids, or man's ideal vision of women sitting on the beach, but even in his imagination they do not sing to him. When he is awakened from his daydream by a human voice, it is apparent that even in his fantasies Prufrock is paralyzed and non-active . Paralysis is the key theme that runs through "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." In this "love song," T.S. Eliot captures the spirit of the age, the sense of inadequacy and avoidance of conclusions which so characterize modern Man. Even if many of the references and allusions go right over most our heads, the tone that he establishes, the tension he creates by continually backing away from the main question, and the unforgettable language and imagery make this a pivotal work of 20th Century Literature.

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