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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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Joanne Vo

on 5 March 2013

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Transcript of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Mythological Criticism MYTHOLOGY SYMBOLS my·thol·o·gy / mTHäljē/ MYTHOLOGY “Like a patient etherized upon a table” (Line 3)
• Implies that meeting women makes Prufrock feel as vulnerable and powerless as a surgery patient
"... yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes" (Line 15)
• Could signify smoke from the factories of St. Louis. However, could also symbolize things that Prufrock desires but cannot get T.S Eliot “A collection of myths, esp. one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition. A set of stories or beliefs about a particular person, institution, or situation, esp. when exaggerated or fictitious.” • Normally contains gods and heroes
• Myths represent people’s hopes, happiness, fears, etc
• Evolves and changes over time Bibliography MYTHOLOGICAL /
ARCHETYPAL CRITICISM • Involves use of archetypes, symbols, and word
• Mythological critics search for archetypes to find better understanding of text • Major figures include Carl Jung, Northrop Frye, Joseph Campbell ARCHETYPES
• Archetypes: "a typical or recurring image, character, narrative design, theme, or other literary phenomenon that has been in literature from the beginning and regularly reappears."
• Critics use the term archetype interchangeably with the term motif
• To Jung, archetypes are "primordial images; psychic residue of repeated types of experiences in lives of ancient ancestors which are inherited in the collective unconscious of the human race"
• Jung investigated religions and mythologies of preliterate peoples in Africa and the southwestern United States MODERNISM • Began in the late 19th centuries
• War, cities, boredom, and fear are classic
modernist themes
• Technology, literature, and art slowly evolving during this time
• Created new technologies that connected people WRITING STYLE • The poem is a dramatic monologue because the speaker refers to the listener as "you." Lines: 1, 11, 28, 31, 56, 78, 89, 95
• "Let us go then, you and I" can be different sides of Prufrock
• Prufrock is reluctant to act because he does not know what to say to women even though he states what he feels articulately
• Some lines comprise of only three words while others contain as many as fourteen. The fragmentation displays how chaotic Prufrock’s world is. TIME “Time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions.” (Line 32)
• Shows he has lots of time and could be an upper-class man who doesn't do much. It also shows that he always worries about the future and past
• The order that Prufrock lists, "evenings, mornings, afternoons," (Line 50), reveals that Prufrock’s life is disordered and chaotic
"And indeed there will be time / To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” / Time to turn back and descend the stair," (Line 38)
•He assures himself that there is time to wonder if he dare ask the “overwhelming question” Lines: 10, 93, but changes his mind and decides to "turn back" (Line 39)
• The spoons Prufrock uses to measure coffee represents a "measure" of his life (Line 51) The poem alternates between past and future instead of the present
• By the end, Prufrock lost his chance to ask his “overwhelming question” so he remains the sad old man he started off as FEAR • His lifeless and ordinary life is the consequence of his feelings of incompetence and his fear of decisions
•Prufrock is not a prophet with dedication and responsibilities but someone to be ridiculed and mocked OCEAN " I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas." (Line 73)
• The ragged claws and scuttling across the sea brings to mind the image of a crab
• Prufrock is calling himself a crab which means he thinks he is small and unimportant  
"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. / I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. / I do not think that they will sing to me / I have seen them riding seaward on the waves / Combing the white hair of the waves blown back / When the wind blows the water white and black. / We have the lingered in the chambers of the sea / By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us, and we drown"
• The white-capped waves are compared to "white hair“ which he continually brings up because of his insecurities with his thinning hair
• Prufrock is dreaming of living in the ocean where it is deep, cold, and desolate, instead of being with others MERMAIDS "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each" (Line 126)
• In Homer's Odyssey, sea nymphs sit on shores and sing a song that entices sailors who hear it. The sailors are so mesmerized, they sit on the shore until they die or jump off their ships
• Michelangelo, Hamlet, Lazarus, Orsino, and the speaker in "To His Coy Mistress" would have jumped into the water to hear the mermaids
• He listens to the songs of the mermaids but they will not sing to him
• He associates the beautiful women around him to mermaids because they symbolize unattainable desires REOCCURRING IMAGES • The streets are not regular streets, Prufrock goes to the bad parts of the city • Other hints of status are food and references to artists, things that a lower-class person would not have access to
• Prufrock refers to women as their body parts instead of
the whole person. ANTI-HEROISM • He is shy and reclusive and not sociable, very insecure, and wallowing in self-pity. However, he still wishes for women to notice him
• Prufrock has no self-confidence and is indecisive. He is conflicted by his own dullness and inadequacies which alienates him DANTE'S INFERNO • By contrasting, Eliot tells the reader that this is not a normal monologue
• The epigraph clarifies how someone as insecure as Prufrock can say exactly what he means through the poem, but not in
the scenes of the poem
• This also shows that Prufrock believes he is living in his own
personal Hell
• Similarly to Prufrock, the speaker Guido da Montefeltro
was concerned for his reputation MICHELANGELO • The setting is established by the recurring phrase, "In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo." Lines: 13-14, 35-36
• "Michelangelo" reference suggests that this is for the
upper-class who are able to engage in superficial conversations of famous artists
• The quote is a reference from a poem in the 19th
century by French writer Jules Laforgue LAZARUS "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all" (Lines 94-95)
• Lazarus rose from death after being buried
• Prufrock parallels asking his “overwhelming question” to Lazarus coming back from the dead
• Prufrock is not like Lazarus or Dante, who return from hell because he never escapes from his own personal hell SHAKESPEARE • Hamlet was indecisive and delayed like Prufrock but he was able to take
action in the end
• Hamlet says the famous line, "To be or not to be, that is the question."
That is like Prufrock’s own "overwhelming question."
• Prufrock is like Polonius, the attendant lord, because both are educated but lack success and accomplishment
• "Dying Fall" (Line 114) Phrase from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
• "Progress" A journey by a king or queen of England with in the time
of Shakespeare
• "Fool" jester who entertained the king's court. Many were dwarfs or cripples CONCLUSION OTHER ALLUSIONS • "works and days," (Line 29) is the title of a poem by Hesiod that is about the goddess Strife instructing people to work
• Allusions to famous works reveals that Prufrock is cultured and knowledgeable
• Prophet John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus, dies after being asked for his head on a platter
• References James Fenimore Cooper's 1823 novel, The Pioneers. • Ames, W. (n.d.). On The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. - The Poet's Forum -. Retrieved February 21, 2013, from
• Carl Jung summary . (n.d.). Sonoma State University. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from
• Eliot, T. S. (n.d.). J. Alfred Prufrock: Study Guide. Free Study Guides for Shakespeare and Other Authors. Retrieved March 2, 2013, from
• Gilbert, A. M. (2009, March 12). Poetry analysis: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot - by David Diesness - Page 2 - Helium. Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Retrieved February 21, 2013, from
• Holcombe, C. J. (n.d.). myth approaches to literary criticism. poetry craft and theory: creation, analysis and improvement.. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from • Phillips, J. (n.d.). Lazarus come forth- After being raised from the dead by Jesus Lazarus… . Lazarus come forth- After being raised from the dead by Jesus Lazarus… . Retrieved February 25, 2013, from
• Prodhan, A. R. (2011, April 19). Sagor from Bangladesh: Examine ‘The love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ as a modernist poem.. Sagor from Bangladesh. Retrieved March 2, 2013, from
• Rooms in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. (n.d.). Shmoop: Homework Help, Teacher Resources, Test Prep. Retrieved March 2, 2013, from
• Siegel, K. (n.d.). Introduction to Modern Literary Theory. Homepage - Dr. Kristi Siegel. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from
• The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. (n.d.). Shmoop: Homework Help, Teacher Resources, Test Prep. Retrieved March 2, 2013, from
• The Ocean - The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. (n.d.). The Ocean - The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Retrieved March 2, 2013, from
• The Ocean in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. (n.d.). Shmoop: Homework Help, Teacher Resources, Test Prep. Retrieved March 2, 2013, from • Wood, K. M. (2008, April 17). Poetry analysis: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot - by Kerry Michael Wood - Helium. Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Retrieved February 21, 2013, from
• Archetype Facts, information, pictures | articles about archetype. (n.d.). | Free Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 25, 2013, from
• terms & themes. (n.d.). - /. Retrieved March 22, 2013, from
topic. (n.d.). archetype from The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. Questia, Your • Online Research Library. Retrieved February 25, 2013, from • Able to identify many different types of archetypes, whether it was symbols or allusions
• Role of mythological criticism is to seek out archetypical characters
• Prufrock is seen as the typical anti-hero, one who lacks heroic traits such as courage and strength
• Can see that he fears rejection, and the challenge this hero has to face is to overcome his own insecurities
• He never conquers these challenge so we see him in future tense where he missed his opportunity Kevin,Katie, Joanne, Joey, David • Prufrock wears a morning coat which means he is part of the middle or upper class.
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