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Prufrockian paralysis Paralysis the incapacity to act has been the Achilles heel of many famous mostly male literary characters Shakespeares Hamlet is the paragon of paralysis unable to sort through his waffling anxious mind Hamlet makes a decisive action only at the end of Hamlet Eliot parodically updates Hamlets paralysis to the modern world in The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock Parodically because Prufrocks paralysis is not over murder and the state of a corrupt kingdom but whether he should dare to eat a peach 122 in front of high-society women Indeed Prufrocks paralysis revolves around his social and sexual anxieties the two usually tied together Eliot intended Prufrocks name to resound of a prude in a frock and the heros emasculation shows up in a number of physical areas his arms and legs are thin 44 and notably his hair is growing thin 41 The rest of the poem is a catalogue of Prufrocks inability to act he does not after tea and cakes and ices Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis 79-80 The original title of the poem was Prufrock Among the Women and Prufrock as a balding weak neurotic effete intellectual is both baffled and intimidated by women Perhaps the central image of his anxiety is his being pinned and wriggling on the wall 58 under the unflinching gaze of women exacerbated since the womens eyes much like their Arms that are braceleted and white and bare 63 seem eerily disconnected from their bodies At least here the women seem to be paying attention to him however hostile they may be By the end of the poem Prufrock feels ostracized from the society of women the mermaids singing each to each I do not think that they will sing to me 124-125 Interestingly Prufrocks obsession with his bald spot rears its ugly head here the beautiful vain mermaids comb the white hair of the waves
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