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Word Count: 1,495
The so-called Love Song The ironic character of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock an early poem by TS Eliot 1888-1965 in the form of a dramatic monologue is introduced in its title Eliot is talking through his speaker about the absence of love and the poem so far from being a song is a meditation on the failure of romance The opening image of evening traditionally the time of love making is disquieting rather than consoling or seductive and the evening becomes a patient Spender 160 When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table 2-3 According to Berryman with this line begins modern poetry 197 The urban location of the poem is confrontational instead of being alluring Eliot as a Modernist sets his poem in a decayed cityscape a drab neighborhood of cheap hotels and restaurants where Prufrock lives in solitary gloom Harlan 265 The experience of Prufrock is set against that of unnamed women 13 collectively representing womankind Their unattainable status is represented by their constant movement- they come and go- and their polite chitchat about Michelangelo who was a man of great creative energy unlike Prufrock Harlan 265 We cannot imagine that they would listen to any love song by Prufrock any more than they would find his name or his person attractive A man named J Alfred Prufrock could hardly be expected to sing a love song he sounds too well dressed Berryman 197J Alfred Prufrock indicates his formality and his surname in particular indicates prudery The powerful metaphor a visual image of the yellow fog 15 in the fourth stanza represents the jaundiced environment of the modern city or Eliots infernal version of the forest of Arden Cervo 227 The image is ambiguous however because Eliot also makes it curiously attractive in the precision he uses in comparing the fogs motions to that of a cat who licked its
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