Analysis of the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

As an innovative movement , modernism predominantly emerged in Europe in late 19th century and then in early 20th century it spread United States by affecting both literature and art.The emergence of modernist literature in United States was effected by multipule factors such as industrilization ,urbanization and scientific developments however ;WWI and its post-war trauma upon individuals were regarded as the most predominant reason. That is why, American Modernism experienced its domination in literature between WWI and WWII period. After experiencing, devestating global conflicts , horror ,chaos and rapid technological advancements ; modernist American artists reflected their mistrust against some instututions of power such as religion, government.In other words it could be said that modernism both as a philosophical and as a artistic movement deliberately rejected old traditional forms and norms by manifesting notion of ‘’ relative truths’’ rather than ‘’ absolute truths.’’ That is why, modernist artists experimented to create a literary form and expression by adhering to Ezra Pound’s ‘’make it new’’ principle in order to reshape literature and express the new sensibilities of their time.Thomas Stearns Eliot , widely known as T.S.Eliot , could be accepted as one of the most important representative of American modernist poetry.As a poet , T.S.Eliot rejected all conventions and styles of traditional poetry and he wrote one of his masterpiece The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by applying his modernist principles which made the poem one of the quintessential example as a basic modernist poem.The purpose of this essay is to analyze influence of modernism in The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock by T.S.Eliot in terms of its style , characterization and theme.

Firstly , The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was created as a poetic form of dramatic monologue and it dealt with the feelings and thoughts of the persona who was probably a middle-aged man , J. Alfred Prufrock.As a modernist poet, T.S. Eliot rejected both Romantic and Victorian traditions of poetry and he used various Modernist tecniques to shape his poem. Unlike what title suggested , T.S. Eliot created a kind of irony by using phrase of ‘’ love song’’ in the title because the poem did not deal with old love concept or its old cliches .Poet made this irony in order to emphazise the distance between his new sense of modernist perspective and the old conventions of poetry.Furthermore poet did not use consistent rhyme scheme and regular pattern to the rhythm consistently in general of the poem that is why the poem composed as free verse. Poet created ambiguity and uncertainty in his poem by using rhetorical questions,imagery, repetition, and some references. In the poem , multiple modernist ideals were used by the poet however the most important modernist technique in the poem could be regard as ‘’the stream of consciousness technique.’’ By using this tecnique, poet reflected the fragmental thoughts and ideas of modern man. This Modern tecnique not only created an oppurtunity for the reader to discover inner self of the persona but also it reflected chaos of modern life . As an important contributor who affected Modernist American poetry, T.S.Eliot rejected the traditional style norms and its artistic modes by using a modernist style to express the modern man by means of his precise visualization and the modern ‘’ the stream of consciousness tecnique.’’

Secondly , poet created not only intellectual but also hesistant anti-hero , J. Alfred Prufrock, as his persona. J. Alfred Prufrock could be cosidered as representative man in the age of modernity in terms of his searching for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. Speaker of the poem ,narreted the changing notion of time and perception of each individual owing to industrilization , wars and the compexity of human relationships through his introspective monologues and rhetorical questions.Furthermore , J. Alfred Prufrock was a self-conscious man who suffered from modern people ‘s disease in their soul and in their mind of the modern living known as ‘’ Hamlet Syndrome.’’ T.S.Eliot used classical allusion of Hamlet in order to express the overthinking , hesistant and over-sensitive characteristic of modern individuals .On the other hand , it was stated by the persona that : ‘’ No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be’’ (Eliot line 123) so as to emphasize both his ordinariness as a man and the prevalence of this condition in the society.Similarly , J. Alfred Prufrock as an passive-observer, reflected social and sexual anxiety of an individual in the society through his pessimist point of view.By creating an anti-hero rahter than old tradition’s concept of ‘’hero’’ ,T.S.Eliot aimed to represent the modern individuals and the problems they encountered in the age of modernity with its all aspects through his characterization.

Lastly , modernism not only influenced the style and characterization of the poem but also it shaped the major themes as well.Troughout the poem the psychological themes and anxiety of self-aware speaker could be observed in the poem. The disengagement with values of society, questioning of self in order to perceive illusions of reality dominated as major themes of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock . Since modernist perspective rejected all figures of authority and all excepted absolute truths , in modernist American literature it could be observed the questioning of inner self to redefine unknown reality and to find sense of belonging.Speaker of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock repeated his question to himself more than once as ‘’ Do I dare ? ‘’ and then he asked himself ‘’ Do I dare to disturb the universe? ‘’ to emphasize the challenges of new order and his confusion about his identity in the society. Similarly, as a modernist poem , it reflected the clash between individual and society through reflecting social anxiety of the persona and his sense of alienation.The timidness and lonliness of J. Alfred Prufrock about social integrations as a modern man could be seen through this lines :

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —

(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —

(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)

These psyhological themes and modernism movement in American literature aimed to represent the new mindset of American individuals with all aspects of social, economic and cultural transformations of modern age.

To sum up, Modernism spread United States in early 20th century from Europe due to various factors such as industrilization , urbanization , technological developments etc. however WWI and its post-war trauma on people regarded as its key factor.That is why Modernist perspective dominated American Literature between WWI and WWII period. Modernist artists in American Literature rejected figures of authorities such as government and religion aside from old traditional limitations in art by declaring notion of ‘’relativity‘’ about truths rather than ‘’absolute’’.

All social, cultural and technological developments required to redifine the art in order to express new sensibilities in the new order of modern life. Thomas Stearns Eliot , widely known as T.S.Eliot , could be accepted as one of the most important names of American modernist poetry.As a poet , T.S.Eliot rejected all conventions of art forms and sense of traditional poetry. He wrote one of his masterpiece The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by applying his modernist principles on his writing style , creating his characterization and themes of modern life which made the poem one of the quintessential example as a basic modernist poem

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Analysis of the love song of j. alfred prufrock. (2021, Jul 06). Retrieved August 10, 2022 , from

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