The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

By T.S. Eliot
 Published in 1915, Prufrock is an examination of the
prototypical modern man. Prufrock is over-educated,
eloquent and emotionally stilted.
 Prufrock addresses the ‘You and I’ (the audience)
about his potential lover and forcing a moment to “it’s
 Prufrock knows too much about life and its inevitable
disappointments to ‘dare’ approach the woman.
 In his mind he hears the comments others make about
his perceived inadequacies- his receding hair line, his
thin arms etc…
 Format
 The poem is delivered as a dramatic monologue, a
fictional speech from a fictional character, much like a
soliloquy in a play
 1: The poem is a specific utterance of an individual
 2: It is directed to an inferred listener (us)
 3: The focus is the revelation of the speakers character
 The ‘Epigraph’ from Dante’s Inferno describes his ideal
listener: someone who will hear his woes but never
repeat them. The listener is unable to repeat them
because they are dead and trapped in hell.
 Rhyme Scheme-
 Conclusion
The rhyme is irregular but
not random! The
scheme is carefully
constructed with the use
of refrains“In the room….
“How should I presume?...
“That is not it all…”
 The conclusion is a
comparison to
Shakepeare’s Hamlet and
the idea of a tragic hero.
 That rather than being a
hero, he is insignificant,
‘Fifth Business’ in his
own life!
Prufrock Analysis
 Epigram: is Dante’s
Inferno- the audience of
like-minded individuals
who will never tell of his
insecurity and secrets.
 1: The invitation: “you
and I”
 A metaphorical
invitation to walk the
dark streets- lonely and
 “patient etherized”
 Seduced/medicated and
 Refrain:
easy to control!
 Women are
modern/intellectual and
 “One night hotels”
 “insidious intent”
 “overwhelming question”
 SORDID sexual
encounters, where is he
taking you? It is implied
that you understand!
 “yellow Fog”
 Is cat like, alienated and
vulnerable, like a ‘stray’
in society
 “There will be time”
 Why do it now when it
can be done laterprocrastination!
 “faces”
 Masks that disguise his
true feelings!
 “taking of toast and tea”
 In polite society he feels a
 “Do I dare?”
 Insecure imaginings of
how they talk about him.
He has to make a choicehe is insecure and
 “Known them all”
 Measured and considered,
a contrast to the above!
 “sprawling on a pin”
 “shall I say”
 “I should have been a
crab, scuttling…”
 Like a bug being
 Should he talk about his
exploits, will they listen
or laugh and think him
 This is true vision of
himself, a ‘bottom
feeder’ walking the
floors of the ocean.
 “…force the moment to its
 “..platter…”
 Should he act, is it worth
 Biblical allusion, John the
Baptist’s head, brought to
Herod’s wife (at her
request) on a silver platter!
 “eternal footman..”
 Judgment- how will he be
received at the gates of
 “I am Lazarus..”
 The OT Biblical story of
Lazarus and Dives.
Lazarus came back to
warn the people and no
one would listen.
 “Prince Hamlet”
 What is his role in his
own life? Key actor or
support or comic relief?
 “I grow old..”
 Images of old age, rolled
 “mermaids”
trousers, eating a peachno teeth!
 Enticing sailors to their
death on the rocks- they
sing to all but him, he is
not worthy!
 The title is ironic, this is not a love song, but for
Prufrock we feel pity and angst. The modern man of
the 1920’s is not heroic, in fact they are the opposite, a
reaction to the events of WW1.
 You may mock his weakness as today’s standards
contrast his ideas, but as a representative of the
‘emerging modern-man’ we see Prufrock as pathetic,
not tragic.
 We see a life not lived, paralleling characters in works
 The Woman in This Poem. Bronwen Wallace
 The Great Gatsby. F Scott Fitzgerald
 The Hollow Men. T S Eliot
 Death of a Salesman. Arthur Miller

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