The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock Analysis – Term Paper

Interpretation of the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ well-known as “Prufrock” (Eliot), is a poem written by an American-British poet T.S. Eliot completed in 1910 or 1911 but published until 1915. This is one of the most influential songs of the 20th century. The changes he made to the years’ account for the fragmentation of the poem. J. Alfred Prufrock is a middle-aged and indecisive intellectual man who calls the reader on a trail of a modern city. The poem is the earliest of Eliot’s major works. The speaker seems to be addressing a potential lover. The thoughts of the speaker represent transitional links that are psychological in nature. This stylistic option makes it intricate to establish precisely what is accurate and what is figurative. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” (Eliot) conveys the views of a sexually aggravated middle-aged male who wants to pronounce something but is frightened to do so. In the initial stages of the poem, Prufrock uses a variety of outdoor metaphors such as the streets, the sky, hotels and cheap restaurants. He further defines fog and yellow smoke, which are outdoor and away from the gathering that persists on a moment in a while to achieve many aspects in the societal world.

Critical Analysis of the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

The title contributes to some themes that Eliot explores that revolve about paralysis and heroic articulations. Eliot understood that the advancement of an artist could be achieved through a repeated selflessness and extinction of personal behavior. He preserved his philosophies on how to attain this extermination of personality. However, mostly, Eliot set of objects, a chain of events, and a situation as the lone technique to prompt a feeling in the system of art while discovery of a neutral correlative which is the formulation of a particular emotion. First, Eliot attains the extermination of his disposition by introducing the poetic method of a theatrical monologue.  There are many themes within the “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock written by T.S Eliot”. (Eliot). Most of these themes are associated with particular rhetoric devices used within the poem. It is stated that Eliot employs unique techniques and impressive devices filled with imagery, juxtaposition, metaphors and allusion to serve as a better understanding of the present themes. The central theme in the poem is supported by thematic ideas of love, alienation, loneliness, pessimism as well as depressiveness. Therefore, some of the themes in the poem include;

The dented spirit of Humanity

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Eliot as one of the modernist writers wanted to articulate the fragile mental state of civilization in the 20th century.  Modernist writers want to capture the transformed world which perceived as alienated, fractured and denigrated. The trauma and ideals of the 1st World War, preferably tested cultural concepts of manly identity resulting incapable poets to change the world in verse. For instance, Europe missed a whole cohort of young individuals basically to the dismays of Great War that caused an overall disaster of maleness whereby the fighters fought to get a place in an altered society. From, the poem “The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, Eliot perceived the society as lame and hurt by demonstrating this theme in the poem. Eliot explored many aspect of humanity as communally injured spirit that prohibited individuals from collaborating with each other in the poem.


Love is another theme explored in the poem by Eliot. The title suggests this theme can be seen. The poem is very weekly embedded in love, and one of the most examples is when he questions, “Do I dare?” (Eliot). This statement denies love its chance to bloom. The anxieties and obsessions about the world and the individual within the world has led the author of this poem from interacting and fundamentally condemned to a life of isolation. From the references depicted from the poem, Prufrock is making note of how he is bored with the society stating that the people all the world are the same. It is evident that he has become so accustomed to his loneliness that even his internal channel of communication reflects it.

The Influence of Literary Antiquity

This theme is ideally exercised in the poem since Eliot maintained high veneration for fairytale along with Western mythical norm. The poem is packed with footnotes, allusions and quotations whereby Eliot acclaims the mythical tradition by stating that the finest writer is the one who pens with an intellect of steadiness. Evidently, the best work based on poetry improves the mythical practice. Eliot suggests that the integration of literary past should be amalgamated into fashionable poetry. The poem as it was written guards against extreme academic acquaintance which is the most vital jiffs of the ancient conditions. This concept juxtaposes various fragments of literary as well as traditions based on sounds and scenes from current life. Therefore, the theme of the power of literary history reinterprets historical context and canonical texts of culture and humankind in the poem.

The varying design of the gender personnel

From the poem, the life of Eliot, sexuality and gender roles has become more increasingly flexible since he reflects the variations in his effort. Women were confined to the domestic sphere in the Victorian period of the 19th century. Sexuality had no public exploration despite the fact that puritanical air verbalized most communal connections. The interactions ushered the new period of surplus and frankness.  Substantially, the existence of World War I transformed society given the fact that people felt isolated from each another as well permitted to pause social refinement. Education is a factor that women could not afford in the initial times of the 20th century. Modern writers created the notion of manliness and feminineness as optimum identities that are likely to be dedicated by societies. Eliot through his poem illustrated this theme and uttered apprehension about the freedom intrinsic in the current time of life. The poem ideally reflects the feeling of emasculation practiced by several men during the World War I. Eliot’s poem portrays the central character by the name Tiresias who exemplifies completeness signified by the dual genders pending in the same body.


This is one of the most important themes in the poem. The theme consistently is flipping between the past and the future adding the implication that the present is not worth noting. Prufrock continually references the idea that he is getting old and the time is running out for him to become accomplished. The central worry for Prufrock is time since he reflects that time gives him the capability to change his decisions. If Prufrock doesn’t make faster decisions, then he will end up a lonely old man just sitting alone waiting for death. Time is a very essential and constant factor. It ideally continues to tick regardless of our actions. In the poem, time is understood as a physical concept that is not infinite. Eventually time is finite and runs out. Therefore, the idea of time as the theme within the poem by Eliot suggests that Prufrock is wasting it.  

Mythological and Spiritual ritual

The marvelous facts of Eliot based on religious ritual, myth and academic works in the mythical practice notifies every facet of his poesy. Eliot completed his poems by having an obscure of educating his readers while writing. He further clarifies the critical part adopted by myths and religious symbols by slowly drawing from fertility rituals. Hindu chants are alternative spiritual possibilities that enabled a hurt figure getting cured by the detriment of a model. From the poem water is used to symbolizes both life and death. Traditionally, the Fisher King brought death, famine and unhappiness. The characters in the poem wait for water to quench their thirst given the fact that water has the regenerative likelihood of reinstating life along with fertility. Elsewhere water provides solace and brings relief. Eliot cautions people to beware of simple solutions for what looks harmless might turn out to be very hazardous. From the poem, Eliot projected the current world as a wilderness in the sense that the land and its people had no ability to perceive. Various characters in the poem are frustrated sexually either generative or not. Eliot symbolized the divide between high and low culture using music since he believed that high culture comprises of art, drama, opera just to name but a few.


This is another crucial aspect depicted from the poem written by Eliot. Fragmentation as used in the poem demonstrates the chaotic state of modern existence and juxtaposes literary texts against one another. Eliot represented humanity in the poem through the use of dialogue, scholarly ideas, images and formal styles. Every line in the poem echoes an academic work since many lines have footnotes that encourage and educate readers in matters of deeper delivery of resources. For instance, “The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes” (Eliot), is one of the lines in the poem that educate readers based on the theme. Eliot tries to highlight recurrent themes along with images in the literary tradition by placing his ideas about the contemporary state of humanity as well as the spectrum of history.

Debasement and Hell

The theme about hell is first brought within the epigraph based on different levels of hell. The poem, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ demonstrates the theme of hell that is conveyed by Eliot. He develops the idea of hell on earth. The development of this theme is easily relatable to the theme of pessimism. “Dante his story in Hell” and “We have lingered in the chambers of the sea” (Eliot), are some of the examples of this theme. In the second verse of the poem, Eliot uses imagery to clearly explain lack of interest in what he sees in the world for anything better than his version of hell.


In conclusion, the themes as described above carry throughout the poem demonstrating the character of Prufrock his thoughts about himself and the facts of the situation along with the setting he is likely to be in. The act of Prufrock’s inability on love and to embrace life stems from his paralysis, social awkwardness, inadequacy as well as acceptance to have faith in interaction. Therefore, it is observed that many themes that are within the poem ‘The Love Song J. Alfred Prufrock’ connects on so many levels.   


Eliot, T. S. Collected Poems, 1909-1962. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963. Print.