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“Love Song” by J. Alfred Prufrock

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    Insecure, uncomfortable, unhappy, anxious, and fearful all describe Mr. Prufrock. This poem is ironic because it makes you think that it’s about love, its opposite. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is about a man who is indecisive, too insecure to ask a woman for toast and tea. He refers to himself as a hermit crab “I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas”. He would be comfortable living where he could hide from anything bothering him, in a shell. He is afraid of fear and rejection. He knows that if he doesn’t ask this woman then he doesn’t have to worry about being rejected. His self-esteem is so low that he feels he is not worthy of anyone loving or even liking him. This poem is Prufrock’s thought process over a decision that he can’t make for himself. He knows that by not approaching this woman it will make him unhappy, but he can’t bring himself to do it, he’s terrified of the outcome. Time is a major theme in this poem, there is a significant amount of references to time.

    Prufrock is going back in forth in his mind about asking a woman out and realizes that even one minute can have an impact. He doesn’t want to “disturb the universe”. If he ever makes the decision to speak to this woman, it could change everything negatively, so he just can’t decide. Prufrock has an issue with over analyzing everything, it causes him to dissect every decision he comes across. He makes references to his life “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”, meaning that he has lived his life cautiously, and has not made room in his life for these decisions. He has carefully weighed out every point in his life and has a routine that doesn’t involve making uncomfortable decisions. The repetition of “there will be time” displays that Prufrock feels he has an infinite amount of time to make his decision. He has all the time he needs to go back and forth over what could happen in his mind.

    By the end of the poem his chance has passed, and he has run out of time. Death is mentioned as “the eternal footman”, he is referring to his fears about death. He does not view himself as anyone special at the end when he says “I grow old…I grow old…” he understands that he has waited too long to ask the woman, he failed to make the decision to talk to her. The time has run out. Death is mentioned again when Prufrock is imagining himself and an old man on the beach. The last line is “Til human voices wake us, and we drown” meaning that human voices wake him from his daydreaming and his lack of knowing how to deal with people and life situations is drowning him. He knows that he is insecure, fearful and has a low self-esteem and even walks through the process of “what if’s” in his mind, he knows he will die lonely, but he couldn’t muster up the courage.

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    “Love Song” by J. Alfred Prufrock. (2022, May 06). Retrieved from

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