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Compare and contrast Ulysses and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in their treatment of ageing and ambition

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Introduction

Compare and contrast Ulysses and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in their treatment of ageing and ambition The title of Eliot's poem initially suggests that it is not a traditional love poem at all. Eliot's choice to use the initial "J" instead of a first name implies a sense of importance, however Prufrock is a connotation of a "prude" in a "frock" which pokes fun at the pompous nature of the name and implies a subliminal other meaning to the name. Prufrock begins in the unpleasant modern world, which is comparable to "da Montefeltro" in Dante's "Inferno" being trapped in hell; however Prufrock is fixed in a lonely, isolating city. This reflects Prufrock's ambition, because he is insecure and feels as if he is trapped and cannot go anywhere. Eliot's imagery is extremely important in illustrating pieces of Prufrock's personality. He uses images of the city being bleak and frightening. The image of "the evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table" shows that Prufrock's view of the world is that it is bleak and empty. This also illustrates Prufrock's lack of ambition because it shows that he feels there is nothing good in the world worth trying for. ...read more.

Middle

The cat appears to be looking in on a room of women "talking of Michelangelo" and unable to enter. Instead, it lingers outside wishing to come in, which creates a strong visual image comparing it to Prufrock who also desires yet avoids entering. Although there is probably not a physical room Prufrock wishes to enter, Eliot uses the idea of this room to show how Prufrock yearns for physical contact with other people, yet avoids it through fear of rejection. This shows Prufrock's lack of ambition and self-pitying nature because the cat appears to be undignified, weak and non-confrontational; rather like Prufrock. Also, the connotation of "prude in a frock" can be seen here, because generally cats and other feline creatures are usually associated with feminine characteristics Eliot often begins lines with the word "and" and repeats "there will be a time" which implies that the time is passing. This shows how Prufrock deals with the issue of ageing because he sees it as constantly creeping up on him. The melancholic imagery and reflections used in the poem seem more like what an older man would say whilst reflecting upon his youth, however although Eliot doesn't give him an exact age, Prufrock appears to be a young man. ...read more.

Conclusion

Prufrock appears to already be similar to an old man in the way in which he reflects on his past; however Ulysses seems younger and full of life. Ulysses states that "tis not too late to seek a newer world" which sums up his wish to live life to the fullest. Although Ulysses and his mariners aren't as strong as they were when they were younger, he states that they are still "strong in will" and so are kept alive by their perseverance "to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield." This reflects a personal aspect of the poem to Tennyson, as it stated his own "need of going forward and braving the struggle of life" after experiencing the death of a close friend. In conclusion, the characters of Prufrock and Ulysses contrast greatly in their treatment of age and ambition; in fact they are complete opposites. Whereas Prufrock sees new situations as intimidating and cause for concern, Ulysses enjoys such experiences and enjoys the thrill of now knowing what is about to happen. The Victorians considered Ulysses to be a strong role model of individual self assertion and striving to make more out of life, whereas Prufrock is so wound up in his own insecurities and fears that he doesn't enjoy what life has given him. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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