The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock explores the emotional and conflicting thoughts of a middle-aged man who is indecisive of attending a party to meet a woman. His indecisiveness is caused by his hypocrisy towards the higher classes of society along with his self-consciousness and concern for superficial matters. He concludes that he has achieved nothing and that his life is futile. One of the poem’s main issues is the effect of industrialisation on society.
Eliot uses personification of a cat in the extended metaphor,” The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,” to convey the sordidness of pollution caused by industrialisation. His use of personifying the cat illustrates the insidious pervading movement of the smog and implies that the city is a grotesque place to live. A major theme in Prufrock is fictitious human relationships.
The quote, “In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo”, the repetition of the refrain and its mocking tone reveals the artificiality of conversation in the room and highlights that the women are misleadingly portraying an impression of sophistication and class. The suggestion that one meets on an emotional level merely a superficial one is addressed in the phrase, “to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet. ” The word face is used as a metaphor for the fai?? ade that people create for themselves in society.
The persona of the poem appears to be a middle-aged man who represents the modern man. He epitomizes disillusioned dreams and captures the sense of the unheroic nature of the twentieth century. The intertextual allusion to Hamlet, “No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be”, equates both characters who are questioning their existence. Prufrock describes himself as unimportant and isolated. The superficiality of the persona is continually revealed throughout the poem through the asides, which focus on superficial matters and Prufrock’s references to his bald spot.
His insecure nature is reveal through the persona constantly questioning himself, “Do I dare? ” and “how should I presume? ” “I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas”, suggests that Prufrock lacks mindless craving that could have placed him on terms with the reality and permitted him to survive in the depths where he exists unnaturally. Poem Two: Portrait of a Lady Portrait of a Lady is a dramatic duologue between a young man and an older woman centering on their relationship.
The poem describes three meetings between them each occurring in a different season. The poem raises a variety of issues relating to love and a need to be socially accepted. A main issue in Portrait of a Lady is the desire to conform and be accepted into society. The lines, “Admire the monuments, Discuss the late events, Correct our watches by the public clock’s”, are images of conformity and reflect the persona’s and the woman’s need to be accepted in society. The line also reveals the lack of depth in their relationship and the facade they create for themselves.
The Lady in particular craves for social acceptance this shown in the rhyming couplet, “Now that the lilacs are in bloom she has a bowl of lilacs in her room”. The man also is not as sophisticated as thought. In the quote, “… Reading the comics and the sporting page. Particularly I remark An English countess goes up on stage. A Greek was murdered at a Polish dance, Another bank defaulter has confessed. ” reiterates the persona’s need to be accepted and to say the right thing to appear cosmopolitan. A major theme in Portrait of a Lady is love.
In the beginning of the poem, the lady is establishing a romantic atmosphere between her and the man, which is evident through the setting of the room and the candles. The romantic atmosphere is shattered when the woman is talking and the persona states, “Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins Absurdly hammering a prelude of its own. ” The line implies his feelings of tedium and frustration towards her. The lady’s love is unrequited by the man. This is evident through Eliot use of comparing the persona’s feelings towards her by using auditory images.
He appears to be bored and is disinterested in conversing with her and resorts to a means of escape, “Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance. ” Another issue in the poem is the persona’s feelings towards the Lady. In the beginning of the poem, he appears to not reciprocate her love. When the persona visits to tell her about him going abroad, he starts to doubt whether leaving her is right. The line “Not knowing what to feel or if I understand” states his uncertainty about his feelings towards her. He realises that he has the advantage now in their relationship but wonders if it was just a hollow victory.