Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Essay: Inability to Love

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Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock - Inability to Love

T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is not a poem about love, at least in any traditional sense. Rather It is a collection of the fragmented thoughts of a man without self-esteem. Far from being about love, it is about one man's inability to love (himself or the world around him.) It is the cynical statement of a man who does not believe good things will ever happen to him, or that the world has anything to offer him. The title is bitterly ironic; Prufrock does not love any body, least of all himself, (no matter how much he might aspire to the ideal of romance and passion), nor does he believe that any one could ever love him. His own life is devoid of love, so in
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Personally, when I read this poem, I feel as though I am being granted an insight into this character's mind, and in him I can see a reflection and an accentuation of the insecurities I myself have felt at times. It is not totally clear where the poem is set, and what exactly is the nature of the action that takes place; but to me it seems likely that the location is in some sort of art gallery or similar setting, where "In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo."3 Although there is a group of people referred to in the poem, it seems that one of the women in the group has a special significance for Prufrock, although it is not clear exactly what their relationship is. Perhaps it is just a woman that he admires.

The poem is filled with examples of Prufrock's insecurities, uncertainties, and indecisiveness. When he talks about "a hundred indecisions / And for a hundred visions and revisions"4, one gets the impression that Prufrock is prone to oscillating between action and inaction; between retreat and advance. He asks of himself, "Do I dare?"5 repeatedly, as he is not sure of how to conduct himself in the presence of these women. He goes on to ask, "Do I dare / Disturb the universe?"6 Perhaps he is asking whether or not he dares to upset the natural order, and order in which he perceives himself as doomed to a life of loneliness and misunderstanding. He has all these feelings of his own, and more, but he is

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