The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

I believe the that the main theme of this poem is time. Prufrock tells of the things he wishes to do, but by the end of the poem he has become and old man who has let time pass him by. “Do I dare     Disturb the universe?” and “In a minute there is time     For decisions and revisions which a minute will revise.” are two quotes showing that he is building the courage to do the things he has wanted to do; however, later in time he has not accomplished what he set out to do when he says “Would it have been worth while,    To have bitten off the matter with a smile,    To have squeezed the universe into a ball    To roll it toward some overwhelming question.” He eventually realizes his shortcomings and is waiting for his future at the bottom of the sea by ending with “We have lingered in the chambers of the sea    By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown    Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”

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4 thoughts on “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

  1. Group C Respondent
    I agree with your standpoint on the importance of time throughout the poem. It is clearly followed throughout as the author ages and comments on the availability of time. I especially like your discussion on him building courage.
    However, I would also like to bring up the importance of the people mentioned by the author as he states his dilemma. He states how “the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo” as both the 2nd and 5th paragraphs, not including the beginning excerpt. Additionally, he talks of how he is “not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be.”
    I gather that these references bring to light the differences between the author’s lack of confidence and the strong qualities of these men. The author is highlighting his fear of sharing some “overwhelming question” he references in the 1st paragraph.
    This can then lead the reader to ponder this question and why the author chose these specific people to contrast with himself.

  2. (Group A Moderation)

    I would have to agree with these interpretations of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I believe there is a very strong sense of the passing of time throughout the progression of the poem. However, there is also a very clear lack of confidence, and maybe even an over focus on the opinions and perceptions the people around him have. Especially when it comes to female interaction/observation, he seems to feel he is under the microscope and judged.

    “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,
    Then how should I begin
    To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?”

    Again and again, the subject reflects on his own inability to take chances, letting time pass him by. Until, at last, he accepts who he is and tries to find peace in his old age, listening the mermaids sing and watching the waves out at sea.

    • Additionally, and just for the fun of it, I looked up a definition of Prufrock, and here it is. Urban Dictionary defines Prufrock as:

      Somebody who shows little confidence in themselves. Too indecisive to act and to be confident with the ladies. Somebody who is afraid of asking girls out; An indecisive person

  3. I agree with these points. I feel as though the narrator might have had some sort of anxiety disorder. I say this due to the continued questions that come from the author, often using terminology such as “would I”, “should I”, “dare I”, and “shall I”. The narrator depicts a great deal of dissatisfaction with themself, however, they do not ever seem to actively attempt to change their behaviors in any way. They express a great deal of regret based on their actions (rather, inactions) of the past, however, they never seem to take these criticisms as a way to change their fate going forward. In fact, the continued talk of growing old seem to give the impression that the narrator feels that it is too late for change.
    This frustrated me a bit, reading this, because I just wanted the narrator to take some action. One of the only ways that I can see someone who is dissatisfied continuing to live in their dissatisfaction is if they truly feel that they are incapable of changing their situation, which is how many people with anxiety disorders can feel.

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