Essay on T. s. Eliot and Alfred Prufrock

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1. In the context of your critical study, to what extent does your response to the opening stanzas of ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’’ inform your judgment of this poem and Eliot’s poems as a whole?

In your response make one detailed reference to ‘’The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’’ and at least ONE other poem set for study.

T.S. Eliot’s poetry becomes emblematic of contextual response, commenting on the hostility of the urban metropolis and the coincidence of contemporary isolation. The dramatic monologue, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, examines the underlying state of disillusionment as Prufrock tries to understand his plight, while simultaneously struggling to conform to the superficiality of social conventions. Rhapsody on a Windy Night, by T.S. Eliot is indicative of the persona’s withdrawal from the urban squalor, highlighting a sense of tragedy to accentuate on a pervading sense of loneliness. The prevailing notions of the fragmented society in the initial stanza are demonstrative of Eliot’s continual cultural criticism, which identifies the complexity of individuals to protrude as impotent.

The cynical examination of the urban metropolis establishes the individuals’ inability to distinguish between reality and idealism due to the pervading sense of hopelessness. T.S. Eliot’s dramatic monologue, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, portrays the pervading image of urbanisation upon the individual through the lines ‘’when the evening is spread out against the sky/like a patient etherised upon a table.’’ The simile of the ‘’patient’’ is indicative of the Prufrock’s state of consciousness as ultimately numb and vulnerable towards society due to the underlying sense of paralysis. This metaphorically serves as an insight into the persona’s psychological state, ‘’showing his own inaction like the comatose patient, while also revealing that the persona cannot relate to the beauty in the world,’’ as suggested by Roland Leach. Eliot further delves into the pessimistic perception at the plight of modern man, which is depicted through the figurative language of the metaphor, ‘’the yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes.’’ This encompasses the degradation of human dignity due the mechanisation and technological advancement, which is suggested metaphorically by ‘’the yellow fog.’’ This proves as a critique of modern society; a place where inane social rituals prevail and a sense of individualism is alienated causing the speaker to no longer be in contact with a purposeful existence.

Eliot further objectifies the urban decay as an exemplification of early modernism through the underlying sense of loneliness experienced by the persona in Rhapsody on a Windy Night. In concern of humanities sensibility, the protagonist is painfully aware of the banality of his life in response to the underlying state of disillusionment experienced in the urban squalor. The use of unconventional imagery of the cat, which ‘’devours a morsel of rancid butter’’ is ultimately reflective of societies impotency. It further capitalises off the benevolent image of the cat to subvert from the stereotypical expectations of beauty of which the cat is symbolic of, to substantiate the futility of modernisation on the individual. As highlighted by critic, James Parsons, Eliot effectively provides the ‘voice’ of this poem ‘’the task of representing the isolation and alienation of the human condition.’’ This serves as emblematic of the complex nature of individuality, due to the persona’s personal perception of ‘’the hand of the child, automatic’’ who ‘’pocketed a toy.’’ This displays indicative of the protagonist’s disdain interpretation of the corruption of humanity. The paradox between expectation of innocence and reality, depicts the child’s existence as synonymous with living death as he could ‘’see nothing behind the child’s eye;’’ an individual victim of modernisation. The intrinsic critique on modern society is accountable for