The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock'

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The narrator of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” often changes tenses in the midst of describing experiences, which in turn leads him to contradict and weaken the credibility of his assertions. How do the shifts in tenses work with his temporal diction to characterize the nature of Prufrock’s wisdom? Prufrock appears to be temporally challenged, like Quentin in The Sound and the Fury, through his sudden changes of tense that occur throughout the poem. These shifts, often working to describe a past experience of Prufrock quickly shift to a future tense, revealing these experiences are more abstract than concrete events of the past. For example, he says, “And I have known the eyes already, known them all-/The eyes that fix you in a formulated …show more content…
He describes that he has already encountered all eyes, which characterize an individual in one manner, but he continues on by describing a moment in which it will happen and what he will do if that situation were to come. He contradicts himself because he has supposedly seen “all” eyes but describes it as yet to occur. The extension of this event over the course of the past, present, and future discredits the idea that he has experienced the moments that he describes throughout the poem and conveys the limited scope of his wisdom. Furthermore, he imagines scenarios and says, “would it have been worth it after all” (100) quickly shifting to the present tense saying, “’That is not it at all’” (110). His constant changing of tenses denotes that he is inexperienced in life because he refuses to take the risks that he suggests he takes. His claim to know time well is discredited through his inability to differentiate the tenses and separate his imagination from reality. He seems to be imagining and thinking of hypothetical situations with all the time that he believes he has, which remains the same over the course of time. His proclaimed experiences are not experiences after all, and he is actually unwise as

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