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“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” talks about a man, Prufrock, who is forced to deal with the feeling of isolation and disappointment. In the poem, the speaker engages in a monologue where he tries to address a potential lover with whom he would want to consummate a successful relationship. It is worth noting that Prufrock is an overeducated, neurotic, and eloquent man who ends up suffering from the feeling of isolation in the poem as depicted by the monologue. He suffers from the memories of unattained carnal love as he keeps lamenting about his lost opportunities and the intellectual inertia that he exhibits.
The poem is rich in vital stylistic devices such as irony, fragmentation, juxtaposition, irregular rhyme scheme, and monologue.
The title of the poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is highly ironic because it tends to talk of love, but the character in the poem is actually isolated, unromantic, fearful, and anti-heroic. In line with the title, a reader expects to see a scenario of a person strongly in love, but this is not the case on the ground. The poem depicts that Prufrock is an isolated man who is longing for love that he does not attain. For instance, the line, “Let us go then, you and I,” (line1) highlights Prufrock’s personality as an individual who is completely afraid of associating with women (Eliot 2). He longs for a long time, but he is not daring enough to take the required step to earn the love that is killing his emotions. His anti-heroism is highlighted by the line, “I am not Prince Hamlet.” It exemplifies the view that he is not a hero when it comes to matters of love. He is not ready to take measures to get the carnal love that he longs for in his life.
Additionally, the rhyme scheme used in the poem takes more irregular form. The poem accommodates a series of poetic forms that constitute the irregular rhym scheme. The irregular rhyme scheme makes the poem less musical than it would have been in instances where the rhyme scheme could be regular all through. For instance, the lines, “In the room women come and go/ talking of Michelangelo” (Eliot, line14) reflect the use of refrain in the poem hence leading to the irregular rhyme scheme. These lines come after each other but do not rhyme hence becoming less musical at any given instance. The irregular nature of the poem indicates the intent of the poet to pass the required message in the best manner possible. It makes the poem more understandable among readers.
Fragmentation is also highly visible in the poem. The device could be mainly seen through the sense of imagery that the poet utilizes to portray Purfrock’s loneliness and longing for love that he does not find at the end. The images that Eliot utilizes in the poem tend to iterate in the poem hence emphasizing the kind of message being communicated to the readers. For instance, the image of the scavenger that is used in the line, “should have been a pair of rugged claws,” iterates in the poem to highlight Purfrock’s intention to keep thinking about his luck of getting the much awaited love despite all the women leaving (Ackerley 16). Purfrock still believes in going for the remains, which he does not necessarily get at the end of the entire story. The fragmentation of this imagery is reflected by the transformation of crabs into rats, which is indicative of the loss of optimism on the part of Prufrock.
Juxtaposition is also present in the poem. It is worth appreciating juxtaposition Eliot has utilized at the end of the poem where Purfrock confesses that he is “not Prince Hamlet” (Ackerley 33). The provided example of juxtaposition is crucial because it boosts the understanding of his character. Readers get the view that he is not a courageous individual who has the potential of becoming a hero. It also highlights Puurfrock’s non-daring nature. The only thing he could do is sit and lament about the lost opportunities without doing the best to achieve them in the required manner. It is the lack of heroism that makes him a frustrated person at the end of the entire poem because he does not achieve the love that he has been longing for in his life.
The poem also entails extensive use of allusion to other works that entailed elements of symbolism. One of the most significant forms of allusion is, “Time for all the works and days of hands” (line 29). The given example of allusion mainly utilized the toil that individuals put in agricultural activities. The author talks about the works that individuals are engaged in and days they spend in order to put food on the table. Another vital allusion is in the line, “To have squeezed the universe into a ball” (line 92). It is reflective of Marvell’s closing lines in To His Coy Mistress. Such form of allusion echoes the works that had been completed by other writers hence highlighting the thin line between Eliot’s poetry and the poetry that existed before. Moreover, there is the allusion to Polonius when Purfrock affirms “advise the prince” (Eliot, line114). It also represents the element of a “Fool” that had been asserted by Shakespeare in some of his works. Therefore, this allusion highlights the line between contemporary poetry and the old forms of poetry.
It is worth noting that the point of view in the poem shifts significantly. One of the most significant shifts in the first person point of view shifts when Purfrock compares himself to a crab. It shifts further when he talks about the universe where everything is considered to be in cosmic proportions. Notably, Prufrock is able to follow all the events that happen around him. He has a capacity to hear women discussing Michelangelo even as he daydreams of the ocean and other locations around the universe.