“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

To me, the theme of the poem is expressed in the narrator’s inability to take any risks, or to achieve any form of greatness or accomplishment. His indecision can be seen in the line, “To wonder, “do I dare?” and, “do I dare?”” The narrator appears apprehensive about aging without having done anything extraordinary, or even out of the ordinary. There are multiple references to aging, such as the line, “[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]”

The narrator is also preoccupied with the mundane nature of his life. The most well known line that exemplifies this is, “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.” Another line is “In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.” The mention of Michelangelo is interesting because, in his time, Michelangelo was seen as one of the greatest artists. One of Michelangelo’s most famous works was a display of Florentine pride. He carved his version of the biblical figure, David, from a block of marble that was previously seen as unusable. By drawing this comparison to an accomplished artist like Michelangelo, the narrator cements the idea that his life and actions are extremely mundane, and that people, women specifically, do not notice him because of this.

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One thought on ““The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

  1. It seems to me like this poem isn’t so much a inability to take risk, more so that he views too many actions as risks to take. The lines “And I have known the eyes already, known them all, the eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, and when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, when I am pinned and wriggling on the wall…” says to me that he is more concerned about his potential vanity than the vanity he already has or has not. This worry about his vanity prevents him from taking risks.

    I do agree that his life seems mundane, however, the descriptions of all the physical vanities he puts on, such as “my morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, my necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin”, may be more a facade to his meager life rather than a description of how mundane it is. The kind of dress he puts on suggests a appearance of formality, when in reality he appears a different person on the inside.

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