Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

If I thought my answer were given
to anyone who would ever return to the world,
this flame would stand still without moving any further.
But since never from this abyss
has anyone returned alive, if what I hear is true,
without fear of infamy, I answer you.
These lines are the way T.S. Eliot begins his poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" a stream of consciousness of the stereotypical 40 year old virgin. This man is sitting in a public place and there are women all around him but he is just too hesitant to do anything that in the end he really does not do anything. The poor man worries about whether he should talk to the girl or not, whether he should part his hair one way or the other... this guy was just very uncertain about anything he was going to do. This is kind of like the soliloquy "To be or not to be" which Eliot makes a reference to in line 111 because the man needs to choose whether he should do something or not. But the funny thing is that while the man is straddling between these thoughts he says he is not like the prince Hamlet so as not to seem so indecisive.
It was also interesting how this poem paints the women in a different setting than the women from "The Waste Land." Instead of being in a bar by themselves without their husbands, these women are at this place- possibly a high end cafe or restaurant-and seem to have a good socioeconomic status. This was noted from the continuous talk of the women "talking of Michaelangelo." They had to have heard of them and mention them in their conversations to impress the others. But due to the fact that this old, single man does not have a woman in his life makes him a sour person. Throughout the poem he says things like "half-deserted streets," sees the pollution all around and sees it as a cat that has just taken over the house without asking and is sad because he does not think the mermaids will sing to him. If only he had a woman in his life, everything would be a lot better and he wouldn't worry about his balding spot because his wife already loves him.

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