The poet, Eliot, reflects on the masterpieces of the Modernist Movement that shows the character traits of Modernism. Eliot the modernist poet, experiments with the structure and form of the poem. This shows him to be experimental as well as innovative. The “Love Song” was indeed an innovation technically and it was intrigued by the idiom and the broken sequences of the French symbolist. The poem is unique in various senses. It proclaims a complete break with the traditional valuation of poetry as something serious (Sarker, 57).
The main theme of this poem is paralysis. The root of paralysis is shown in his inability to connect with women’s sexual feelings. The lack of surety and disappointment come from his impotence. He questions his life and lack confidence to an extent of doubting his existence. Prufrock is afraid of his sexual dysfunction and fears isolation. Prufrock’s thinks he is not handsome enough. He judges himself as not strong that leads him not able to pursue anything, “With a bald spot in the middle of my hair”, (Eliot, 58). There is another minor theme of contradiction. Eliot shows hypocrisy and emptiness of contemporary urban life, it reflects his desire to present certain kinds of human consciousness (Ayaz and Nasreen, 13).On the actions and analysis he analysis the positive and negative deed of his action. He also analyzes his own self. The theme of fear is evident where he mentions the night being restless and the evening is a patient etherized for a serious operation, struggling between death and life. On the theme about death and life, he compares himself with Lazarus and John the Baptist who are involved in the death and in the end, in the last few lines gives a sea image which symbolize spiritual life. However, in the last line he brings the image of death through drowning.
This poem has many literary allusions. The significant allusions in the poem are John the Baptist, and Lazarus highlight particular inherent characteristics of the protagonist (Dwivedi129). The drama is given out by colloquy where actions are restricted to the interplay of the impression Prufrock’s mind. There is also the aspect of irregular rhythm in the poem. The rhythm of the lines is intentionally irregular and it seems to be confusing. These pieces and bits are more apparent when it is read aloud. The prominent formal characteristic is use of the refrains. Prufrock keeps on going back to the women who come and go, talking of Michelangelo, pessimistic appraisal “that is not it, at all.” Eliot (110) and his repetitive questioning “how should and I presume” (Eliot, 54 and 61). He uses a fragment of sonnet form (formal feature) especially at the poem’s conclusion. The last stanzas are rhymed as the resolution of a Petrarchan sonnet would be, but they are pessimistic, coupled with the despairing interjection, hatred content, “I do not think they would sing to me,”(Eliot, 45) brings out the contrast that comments hatefully on the harmless of the modernity.
Symbolism and imagery come out in the poem clearly: first they are room Imagery “Prufrock spends much the time in the rooms where he is eating, listening to other people or fantasizing about women” (Eliot, 140). The ‘love song’ is a psychological drama that is enacted in the mind of Prufrock (Tiwari, 174). The visit to the room is all imaginary. There is a number of repetitions employed in the whole song (poem).It contain most of the image: “pair of scuttling across the floor of silent sea” (Eliot, 74); yellow fog that rubs its back against the window panes; the night that spread out against the sky as patient etherized upon a table. He uses core words repetitively to imply the central mood of the poem. He repeats the phrase “In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo”(Eliot, 36). This repetition proposes that life is recurrent and dull. Personification comes out in Lines 75-79 where the night is personified as a “person who is sleeping next to Prufrock” Eliot. The diction: “Chambers” (Eliot, 139).Refer to many things: an organ in the body or a bedroom. However, chamber in this case, seems to refer that Prufrock’s perfect room is at the bottom of the ocean that is on line 149. The attitude in this poem is depicted in various forms. These include the following: melancholic and cynical in line 2-3; despair in line 81. Prufrock’s despair is render in a series of insidious images that convey the worthless of society for which he mortifying himself (Ackerley,14).Nostalgic Reflective in that he is asking a lot of question and Regretful as he wonders how he will accomplish things he did not remember; loneliness is shown when he is in darkness alone.
Eliot has used fragmentation in his poem. In this poem, Prufrock has fragmented himself as there is a conflict between the social and inner self of Prufrock. This conflict between the two makes him indecisive. It is also observed that he is also attracted by the scattered pairs of the opposite sex body.” He is lured by the eyes the arms. The writer through Prufrock shows the description of “a pair of ragged claws” (Eliot, 73).Rather than portraying the whole crab description. He shows the disintegrated personality of the protagonist Prufrock.
Eliot celebrates ambiguity as another feature of postmodernism. He uses this aspect of postmodernism in his poem. The question “overwhelming question” (Eliot, 10 and 93) that is found twice in the line 10 and 93 brings an aura of mystery from its iteration. This question remains indeterminate and undefined and it can be seen as the question that concerns the meaning of Prufrock’s social life and his existence. Ambivalence in this poem also shows up “Time to turn back and descend the stairs” (Eliot, 39). On top of the staircase awaits a woman who Prufrock want to meet and this image of the staircase brings ambiguity as there are different possibilities of interpretation.
Harcourt Brace, 1963
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