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Imagery in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
T.S. Eliot uses imagery in his modernist poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” throughout the poem in a strange and unconventional way. Rather than develop which means, as typical with imagery, Eliot sets out to utilize imagery to take genuine meaning away. Over the course of the poem, the narrator, J. Alfred Prufrock, struggles to tell the reader his overwhelming question. He as an alternative diverts consideration to images or tips that are ultimately meaningless to the grand scheme promised in the poem. One of the most left field and substantial of these is when he remarks he “should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” This line has no real which means and does not connect to something going on in the rest of it. The explanation for his diversion is to deflect focus from his severe thoughts into empty wonders. Ragged claws recommend a crustacean creature, which is considerable for Prufrock’s character as these creatures are built around self-defense and maintaining their sensitive becoming hidden away via a hard exterior. Prufrock wants to keep to himself and shed off any serious concerns with his defense of a wandering and unfocused mind. This stream of consciousness, although revealing of who Prufrock is on the inside to a degree, does nothing with its guarantee of some sort of life-altering overarching theme or question. Prufrock is afraid to reveal anything that could be taken as not as grand as he desires to be, so he keeps it inside of his shell. The thought of him wanting to be a crab might be random, but the image of a crab is considerable, even if for the incorrect factors.
Prufock’s self-image is also critical for understanding what the poem delivers to say about the emasculation and increasing pessimism that plagues males as Eliot saw. This comes from the imagery of Prufrock himself.
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair – [They will say: “How his hair is increasing thin!”] My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie wealthy and modest, but asserted by a easy pin – [They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”] (Eliot 40-44)
Prufrock is a self-deprecator, a man afraid and unaccepting of his own masculinity. On multiple occasions, he draws consideration to his bald spot. Balding in men is brought on due to the male hormone dihydrotestosterone and even though it is difficult to say that this understanding was common sense in Eliot’s time, it is nevertheless interesting to note with a modern point of view that Prufrock is, in a way, afraid of his own masculinity via his balding. Prufrock’s fickleness regarding his becoming makes him appear much more as a feline than a man, obsessively grooming. It is crucial to note that no one particular in the poem in fact says to his face that his limbs are thin and weak. Prufrock hypothesizes that men and women will say that, showing his low self-esteem and image. His necktie is simultaneously “rich and modest” and this juxtaposition compliments Prufrock’s scatterbrained and unfocused state of being he can not make up his own mind as to whether or not he is properly off or just standard. Prufrock can be associated to several males reading this poem, so Eliot makes use of him as an example of what a man should not be. In his personal poem, Prufrock is a weak and spineless man who is also afraid of any notion of accepting responsibility or venturing out of his comfort zone, also afraid that he will alternatively insult and then be insulted in retaliation. Once again, Prufrock further signals his alienation and insecurities with those about him with the line “to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet,” which implies that he is afraid of displaying his accurate self to individuals that he does not hold close to him, writing them all off as just faces 1 meets (line 27). This idea of wearing a face is probably a direct allusion to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and his concept of a “persona.” Jung describes a persona as becoming “a type of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the accurate nature of the individual” (Jung, 190). This completely falls in line with what Prufrock is setting out to accomplish via this line. He is becoming self-defensive about his correct self, hiding his true thoughts and weak personality behind a façade to not come off as cowardly, to make a more desirable impression on those around him, and these he feels attraction towards. Soon after all, what sort of man is 1 worth taking notice of when he measures his life with coffee spoons, an image that signifies that he does not consider far into the future and is much more concerned with the materialistic entities surrounding him.
He projects this worry of commitment to his real globe and those living within it and his favoring of nonsensical nothings outwards when he states he has recognized the arms currently, identified them all” of the individuals he always passes by (Eliot, line 62). His life is so mundane and his thoughts so single focused that he does not view the individuals around him as whole, just body parts. This image of floating body components adds to his isolation and is rooted in Prufrock’s fear of women, or rather, of generating any sort of impression on a lady. There is a brief moment in like 64 where he sees an arm “in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!” (line 64) The exclamation mark following this observation builds an image that Prufrock is fascinated by this lady, and her presence has left an effect on him so fantastic that he truly emotes in the poem, and it is the only time than an exclamation in the poem is delivered due to the action of someone outdoors of Prufrock. Nonetheless, this is not adequate for him to come out of his emasculated shell, as he quickly forgets about this and slips back into his sterile monotonous tone describing the a variety of objects about him.
J. Alfred Prufrock is a man who, in his modern day occasions, has turn out to be complacent and passive, letting himself go to be taken by the powers that be by means of a trivial life on no correct substance. Prufrock tends to make a point in saying there is “time however for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions” and this line perfectly sums up Prufrock’s selection producing, or rather lack thereof (lines 22-23). Prufrock values his time, but only when it’s spent, ironically, performing nothing. Throughout the complete poem, Prufrock is making indecisions and is consistently revising his own vision of himself through preparing “masks” for other folks. This is a man who does not take action, but rather action takes him to nowhere in specific. Prufrock is afraid to make any true decisions that could remotely leave an unsatisfactory effect on the world, so he attempts to justify himself on multiple occasions at holding out on asking his essential query by query how he ought to presume. (line 54). This is a man who has been emotionally castrated, and with that comes the associated post-complacency with the theoretical removal of the major source of testosterone. Prufrock is as well afraid to make any significant make contact with with a female since he’s afraid he will somehow offend her with his presence accidentally. Prufrock’s refusal of action and passivity is signaled most clearly when he declares he is “not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be” (line 111). Hamlet is, of course, the protagonist of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet and he is a character whose sole defining trait is his inability to act. The whole play is Hamlet musing more than no matter whether he need to or need to not commit different acts, most significantly murder his uncle. By saying that he is not deserving to be Hamlet, Prufrock is affirming himself as even less decisive than a character whose sole goal is to be indecisive. It also shows that Prufrock believes that he ought to by no means be regarded the protagonist of even his personal poem, and as such the poem does not truly stick to him but rather he follows various occurrences around him. Prufrock as a character does not truly develop or change and him not wanting to be a protagonist and rather be a minor function who begins a couple of scenes ties into how he dresses moderately and wishes to not be noticed. Prufrock is so complacent that he describes mermaids as ignoring to sing to him. The singing of mermaids is typically associated with using femininity to draw masculine men seeking pleasure to their dooms, but Prufrock is so emotionally sterile that his lack of masculinity offers practically nothing to the mermaids he is not even worthy of getting killed. Prufrock will stay walking by means of the fog, ever so passive and disregarding anything around him. At the finish of the poem, Prufrock totally slips away into the ocean imagery that he had been alluding to for the whole poem. It seems he lastly got his wish of becoming a crab, at least in his mind, which represents that he has effectively shelled himself away from the globe. He ends the poem by saying that he, and the reader, have each drowned collectively, that Prufrock’s toxic self-pitying has gone on to infect the reader, and he is pulling the reader down into the dark ocean with him. This is what happens when we indulge in the life of an individual as worthless as Prufrock, Eliot says.
Overall, T.S. Eliot utilizes all sorts of numerous pictures and descriptions to create his character of J. Alfred Prufrock, who in fact is not a lot of a character at all. Rather than create Prufrock to be a compelling and interesting figure, Eliot does the precise opposite and draws him as pathetic and unremarkable by way of Purfrock’s personal individual self-image and the way he views the globe around him. Eliot’s goal for doing this to poor Prufrock is to set him up as a figure representative of the detrimental impact that the modern day age to Eliot has had on guys such as Prufrock. Prufrock is an extreme case of emasculation and complacency, displaying the weakening of pompous males and their crippling self-doubting that causes them to be weak and engage in inaction, bringing down the world and people about them in an ill fog of depression and unsureness. “The Enjoy Song of J Alfred Prufrock” on the surface is a run of the mill stream of consciousness about a man going for a walk, but Eliot fleshes the world and topic through rich imagery to deliver a point about superficiality in his modern day, delivering a cautionary tale to his male contemporary reader to not fall into the same pitfalls that Prufrock has vested onto himself.
Jung, Carl, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology (London 1953) p. 190
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