Guid Essay

Guid Essay

Note on the Love Song by J. Alfred Prufrock, Considering the Insights of Wallace Stevens on Modern Poetry – Free Essay Example

Modernism is a movement in literature which lasted from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. This specific era marked landmark progress in science and technology, globalization and industrialization. Even though these are all indicatives of modernism, the modernist writers, nevertheless, diverted their interest into otherwise. Their central objective was to highlight the potential inconsistency underneath the surface advancement. They observed that with the increased dependance on science and technology, and the gradual removal of the individual from rural community into urban isolation, the individual and society were at odds with one another. furthermore, they also witnessed that the destruction caused by the World War I left the civilization dismissed rather than improved.

Free Verse

The modernists notably diverged from the strict meter formulated by the Romantic school of poetry. They preferred free verse which in a way follows neither a rhyme scheme and nor a consistent meter. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is also composed in free verse. However, the thing is that the poem does not fully follow the free verse, it sticks to some formal rhymes as well.

Stream of consciousness

Stream of consciousness is a vey popular mode of narration in the modern era. The modernist writers used this technique to baffle the audience, by leaving things unclear or unexplained. That is the reason works narrated by this technique are often difficult to follow. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock also employs the stream of consciousness technique to present the inner thoughts or agony of a unstable, isolated, uncertain, and sarcastic man named Prufrock.


Alienation is one of the central themes in the modern era. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is also determined around this theme. The poet investigates alienation through the title character Prufrock, who is actually paralyzed by indecision and worry about his appearance to others, especially to women. Prufrock thinks that his paralysis has stemmed from the silent criticism of those around him, and so he also thinks that he will be free of his paralyzing fear once he isolates himself from others. He starts the poem with an epigraph which is drwan from the 27 canto of Dante’s Inferno to suggest the theme of secrecy.


Now, most of the modernist works are filled with allusions, an expression which allowed the writers to summarize the entire theme, feeling, mood and plot of the other stories, with just one phrase or word. Eliot also used allusions extravagantly in his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock which heightened the symbolic as well as the ironic mode of expression. For example:

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The very title of the poem repeats the Rudyard Kipling’s Love Song of Har Dyal, although in a rather ironic way. On the other hand, Kipling’s poem is a typical love song which is expressing an Englishman’s passion and love for his Indian lover, Eliot’s poem is a mockery of the love song, displaying the protagonist’s many failed attempts at courting women.

Eliot alludes to Lazarus in the line 94-95, a biblical character who was actually sent to the Hell but he really wanted to come back to the earth in order to tell his friend about his experiences in the Hell. Moreover, Prufrock in the line 111-119 considers himself to be prince Hamlet, but soon after that he says that he doesn not even have the potentialities of Hamlet and that he is more of the character of Polonius rather than the Hamlet.

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