“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” vs “The Hollow Men”
After WWI, humanity could only depicted as destroyed and at the brink of total depression. T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “The Hollow Men” both illustrate this idea. They portray the world as a physical and social wasteland without purpose. Both poems are similar in their views of the current and future status of humanity. They both make heavy use of poetic devices to reflect a negative mood. While similar in these qualities, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” provides a clear warning to humanity because of the way the narrator delivers the message. The loss and destruction of WWI left humanity feeling depressed and lonely. The world is bleak and polluted, and people are feeling abandoned by God. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is filled with fear and sadness. A good example of showing these certain emotions would be from the lines 15 through 21: “The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes… Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.” This quote shows a great perspective of humanity shortly after the war. The fog represents the pollution in the air due to the advancement of technology and the feeling of nausea that humanity was faced with. The same atmosphere is seen in “The Hollow Men” by saying: “Our dried voices, when we whisper together are quiet and meaningless.” These few lines of the poem give a very detailed perspective of the mindset that was in motion early after the war. The growth of technology and pollution caused major depression and anger.
With the mood of depression and anger are strengthened by Elliot’s use of poetic devices. Elliot uses simile and metaphor to present the setting of both of his poems. In “The Hollow Men”, a metaphor occurs right in the opening lines: “We are the hollow men, We are the stuffed men.” Those two lines are comparing the population of our world that are slaves to society and scarecrows on a plain open field. In “Prufrock”, Elliot uses a huge simile and metaphoric device throughout the poem, “Like a patient etherised upon a table;”, is a strong simile suggesting that we are helpless, we are no longer the people that appreciate earth. Instead we are people that appreciate the things that are man-made and put out in front of us. Elliot in his poem “Prufrock”, was able to bring out personification, “The yellow fog that rubs its back