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"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Notes

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Allison Carmack

on 27 April 2015

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Transcript of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Notes

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Notes
T.S. Eliot

Discussion question 1
Prufrock's Problem(s):
1. He is paralyzed by his self-consciousness
Discussion Question 2
Simile from Lines 2-3:
"When the evening sky is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table."

A patient under ether is unconscious and cannot move or feel.
Discussion Question 3
Prufrock invites listeners to take a walk with him. The images he describes illustrates parts of the city that are polluted and run-down.
Discussion question 4
The name Michelangelo may suggest that women, who speak of this artist, are sophisticated. It may also suggest that they are trying to impress one another. A reference to Joe DiMaggio would change the meaning of these lines, for he is an artist who is concerned with middle-class settings and everyday events.
Discussion Question 5
The fog or smoke is being compared to a cat. It rubs its back and muzzle on the windowpanes, licks the "corners of the evening," lingers on pools in drains, allows soot to fall on it, slips by the terrace, leaps, curls up, and falls asleep.
Discussion Question 6
Prufrock is self-conscious about his appearance; he worries that he is not attractive.
Discussion Question 7
"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;"

Possible answer: the image of the coffee spoons suggests he has carefully planned out his life with caution and hesitation.
Discussion Question 8 & 9
8. Prufrock refers to women talking of Michelangelo, women's arms and perfume, mermaids singing, and a woman saying, "That is not what I meant at all."
9. Prufrock is used to spending time in more luxurious settings. His repeated description of the run-down part of town suggests that he identifies with its squalor.
question 10 & 11
10. Prufrock feels insignificant, lonely and exposed.
11. He seems to want to reclaim his life and find his purpose. He also wants others to know he is fearful and lonely.
Discussion Questions 13, 14 & 15
13. The metaphor compares the process of reveling one's feelings to the projection of images on a screen. Prufrock feels that his attempt to express himself will meet with incomprehension and contempt.
14. The speaker sees himself as a young man who is trying to cling onto his youth and connection to others. He does not succeed at this, though.
15. People who worry about this are anxious, fussy and nervous.
Full transcript