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Who Is The I And The You In The "Love Song"? A Personal Response Paper About T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock"

592 words - 3 pages

T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock describes the consciousness of a modern, nuerotic individual incapable of any real emotional interaction. Prufrock is Eliot's definition of the modern man; an over-educated, eloquent, sexually retarded, yet sensitive thinker. He is the "I" and the speaker of the poem. The poem circles around a formless and vague center, the "one" whom Prufrock addresses. Prufrock's potential lover, this "you" aids in illustrating the emotional distance between two people in the modern world.The undesirable modern world is where "Prufrock" begins. Prufrock is in hell, in a lonely, alienating city. The images of the city are sterile and deathly; the night sky looks "Like a patient etherized upon a table", while down below ...view middle of the document...

He walks through the streets and watches lonely men leaning out their windows. Time passes at a social engagement but he cannot find the strength to act as he wishes, and Prufrock admits that he is afraid. His anxiety is rooted in the modern world. Not only is he afraid to confront the woman talking of Michelangelo, he seems intimidated by the social life he must engage in:There will be time, there will be timeTo prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;There will be time to murder and create,And time for all the works and days of handsThat lift and drop a question on your plate;Only in glimpses is the woman with whom Prufrock imagines an encounter with revealed. The braceleted arms and the skirts, the eyes and the arms. This vague description further conveys Prufrock's isolation. He doesn't know what he wants. Eliot's technique of leaving the potential lover vague and formless leaves the reader feeling Prufrock's isolation. You want to know more and are left with nothing, much like Prufrock. He laments that his emotional disconnection is incommunicable and whatever he says to the lady will be answered by, "That is not what I meant at all./That is not it, at all." Prufrock's imaginary mate is imprisoned much like he is, and each prison is in impenetrable to the other.Eliot's use of the second person "you" in the first line of the poem demonstrates his wish to involve the reader at an emotional level with Prufrock. Though Prufrock is probably intending for his narration to be heard by that distant potential lover, it is evident that, as Northrop Frye mentioned, Prufrock ultimately is talking to himself, and that "in addressing a 'you' who is also himself" a division between Prufrock and the world he contemplates is drawn. In the end, he stands completely separated from that world.

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