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by EddieTemple06, September 30, 2013

170 out of 182 people found this helpful

Whilst the commentary is interesting and does provide some interpretations that are worth merit, the summary is just shocking.
How anyone can read a stream-of-consciousness poem such as this and actually interpret it as "Prufrock" travelling from location to location is beyond me; secondly, the narrator (Prufrock; Eliot) is not addressing any external party, be it the reader or someone else: he is addressing HIMSELF. This, surprisingly, is the nature of a s-o-c poem. This is known as IMAGERY, nothing more. "I wandered lonely as a cloud...." refers to someone having a nice stroll and reciting all the lovely flowers they see. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is all hypothetical, imagined, fictitious: it takes place entirely within the mind of the narrator; he goes nowhere, at least not in a physical sense. The "tedious argument of insidious intent" merely refers to battle he is engaged in with himself.
And another point: whilst "sexual frustration" is an element of this poem, to interpret it in its entirety as a plea to gain sexual congress is both ill-informed and utterly naive; the poem concerns his fears of ageing (he makes numerous references to a "bald patch"; he references the "Eternal Footman" holding his coat and biding his time), of losing his stake in society, of his obsession with mortality and his conviction that he is unable to bring himself back to his old life - he measures his life out with coffee spoons as a way of affirming its futility and pointlessness - again highlighted in "to spit out all the butt-end of my days and ways."
But above all, this poem is about ISOLATION. He is terrified of becoming elderly (I grow old... I grow old...); he muses on making feeble attempts to reintegrate himself into society (I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled [this was the fashion when the poem was written]); his status as an outcast in society, and admittedly his failings regarding romantic relationships, is highlighted by "I have heard the mermaids singing each to each... I don't think they will sing to me." He feels so outcast and unimportant, so surplus to requirements that he muses how he'd be better of as a "pair of ragged claws".
He may be deluded; whilst he acknowledges that he is "on the outside" in society, he regards himself as a potential threat: "I have seen my head... brought in upon a platter" - the fate of John the Baptist, who seen as too much of a threat to the stability of society.
And: Out.


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