In his poem Eliot paints the picture of an insecure man looking for his place in society. Froufrou has fallen in with the times, and places a lot of burden on social status and class to determine his individuality. He is ashamed of his personal appearance and looks towards social advancement as a way to assure himself and those around him of his value and establish who he is. Through out the poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Froufrou”, T S.
Eliot explores Froufrou’s conflict with society, love and self. The issue Of froufrou’s place in society leads to an “overwhelming question… (1 0), which is never identified, asked, or answered in the poem. This “question” is somehow associated with his social status, but both its ambiguity and Froufrou’s denial to even ask, “What is 1) gives some insight into his state of internal turmoil. Froufrou is beginning to feel especially detached from society and burdened by his awareness of it.
He thinks “l should have been a pair of ragged claws/ Scuttling across the floors of silent Froufrou wishes instead that he could be a mindless crab, scurrying around the bottom of the ocean; another example of Froufrou’s impression of his position in society, rarely impairing himself to real people. In fact, in his dream sequence at the end when he imagines how his life might end up, he sees himself as an ocean creature, surrounded by mermaids “Till human voices wake us, and we 31).
Eliot not only uses imagery here to create a picture of a headless crab scuttling around at the bottom of the ocean, but he uses the form of the poem itself to help emphasize his point here. The head is detached from the crab, and the lines are detached from the poem in their own stanza, much like Froufrou wishes his self-consciousness would just detach itself. These images represent froufrou’s desire to be rid of his self- consciousness and possibly some suicidal tendencies which can be tied into just about all of the ambiguous questions Froufrou asks of himself throughout the poem.
Another example of Froufrou’s conflict with society is Froufrou’s dissatisfaction with his personal appearance. Not only is he unhappy with the way he looks, having “To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;” but he is constantly afraid of what others will have to say about him: “(They will say: ‘How his hair is growing ) And ‘But how his arms and legs re Froufrou’s obsession with looks illustrate to us how much he wants to fit into socio and how much his identity is rooted in what others think of him. Froufrou is insecure and frightened of peoples’ reactions to his balding head and slim, aging body.
Unfortunately, his lack of confidence isn’t limited to his looks. Through out the poem you can see Froufrou’s difficulty in communicating with other people – not surprising considering his extreme lack of confidence in his appearance. He is indecisive and unsuccessful in his attempts to communicate with other people, repeating “visions and revisions”(33) and decisions and Eliot uses repetition here to emphasize the concept of Professors variations in behavior. Froufrou as we can see is in a constant sate of internal turmoil.
He seems at times to be asking if he should dare “and drop a question on your plate;”(30) meaning one of his “dares” could be something that he’d like to ask a woman but can’t; he also asks “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe? “(45-46). In this case Eliot exaggerates to give the reader the impression of the seriousness of froufrou’s insecurities – they are his whole “universe. ” Once again, Eliot uses the device of uncertainty to reflect the internal struggle n Froufrou and lead the reader to ask himself again, What is the ‘overwhelming question’ that Froufrou is asking?
Unfortunately even Froufrou himself doesn’t have the answer… Even recognizing the issue itself is beyond the simplicity of his mind, which he confesses by saying “l am no prophet- and here’s no great By downplaying the importance of the issue, froufrou echoes his lack of self-worth. In fact, to froufrou, the issue is extremely important – the fate of his life depends on it. His declaration that he isn’t a prophet indicates Froufrou’s view on his position in society, which he is s confused about as everything else.
Froufrou’s series of questions can also be tied into his unsuccessful attempts at relationships with women. His insecurities keep him from doing the things he wants to do; he feels inadequate and unable to express his true feelings to women, “Should l, after tea and cakes and ices/ have the strength to force the moment to its He knows what he wants to say, but doses ‘t have the confidence or mental capacity to put his feelings into words. He compares himself to Hamlet, “No! M not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;”(111 who, in contrast, was able to express his feelings very successfully o his lover – an ability which Froufrou is envious of, characterized by his emphatic “No! ” (111) He is also second-guessing himself constantly throughout the poem: “Do I “So how should and “Then how should are all questions Froufrou repeats to himself during his monologue. His feelings of inadequacy toward women are not only related to his appearance and lack of mental strength, but to the passage of time and its effect on him.
Froufrou claims that “l have known them all already, known them referring to the “evenings, mornings, and afternoons”(50) of his life which he has seen pass by, insignificantly. He also says “And have known the eyes already, known them and “l have known the arms already, known them which illustrate his failure with and fear of women. Through out the poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Froufrou”, T. S. Eliot explores Professors conflict with society, love and self. Elite’s portrayal of Froufrou, once again shows us how, dire Froufrou’s situation is.
Froufrou’s lack of self-confidence leads to constant indecision, his “overwhelming question. ” Eliot creates the idea of Froufrou being caught with the problem of identity in the very beginning of the poem. Being the outsider that he is, Froufrou will to be accepted by society, that Froufrou is just out of reach of the group of people that he wishes to be associated with in life and love, but most likely his feelings Of insignificance prevent him from associating with anyone at all.
The poem illustrates to us how Froufrou keeps assuring himself that, “indeed, there will be time”(26) to do all of the things he wants to do in his life, but first he must come to terms with his insecurities. However, his insecurities are related to his lack of confidence, so he is truly a tragic, doomed character. Eliot doesn’t give any sense of hope for him in the poem – he remains a mode character until the very end. Froufrou even admits that he has “seen the moment of my greatness flicker, “(84).
Eliot disconnects Froufrou from the real world. Even though Froufrou’s fantasies to be a crab, swim with the mermaids, be young again like Lazarus and talk to women about Michelangelo with the composure and articulacy of Hamlet give him a detachment from his day-to-day worries about society, love, and self. He will never stop torturing himself trying to figure out that “overwhelming question. ” The only hope that Eliot gives the reader out of this poem is the hope that we don’t end up like Froufrou.
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