Modernism - Araby and the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Essay

Words: 1380
Pages: 6

Modernists aimed to reflect reality in ways more ‘real’ than conventional literature. The modernism movement was prompted by a widespread disillusionment in society that resulted from contextual events. This allowed an altered view of the world as fractured and chaotic, especially due to paralysis and alienation in modern society. This newly perceived reality is reflected through techniques of fragmentation in modernist works such as James Joyce’s short story “Araby” and T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, fundamental and far-reaching changes in society often made individuals feel wary and estranged from their surrounding world. These changes included urbanization, technological
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Influenced by 19thC Imagists and French Symbolists, Eliot employs specific and symbolic imageries throughout his work. The central image of Prufrock’s anxiety and immobility is his being “pinned and wriggling on the wall” (58) under the unflinching gaze of women. The “pin” is an example of what Eliot calls “objective correlative” which grafts emotional meaning onto otherwise concrete objects.
The product of paralysis is alienation – another dominant feature of the reality modernists try to reflect. In “Araby”, North Richmond Street is described with adjectives such as “blind,” “quiet,” “uninhabited,” “detached,” “square” and “imperturbable”. This lexical chain establishes the place as a corner of a larger society to which it is close-off. The inhabitants, who are “decent”, adds to the situational irony as they are smugly complacent and will, therefore, not make any attempts to reconnect with the world. Hence, the boy begins disconnected from the wider world.
Joyce continues to isolate the boy from his environment, his friends, his family and his adored. Through mixed imageries of his fantasies, such as the saintly light upon the girl’s hair and potential sensuality of “the white border of a petticoat”, the discrepancy between the real and the boy’s ideal is highlighted through contrast with his dreary surroundings, disconnecting him from it. The audience also understands that his dreams of first love are