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Images in Prufrock.

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Imagery in Prufrock Eliot's earliest masterpiece The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock was published in "Poetry" magazine in 1915. Written as an interior monologue, the poem is an examination of the soul of a timid man paralyzed by indecision; It's an imagist poem written in free verse and uses images to convey ideas. The images of the opening lines depict a drab lonely neighborhood of cheap hotels and restaurants where Prufrock lives in solitary gloom. The images of the city are sterile and deathly, The evening sky looks "Like a patient etherized upon a table", while down below barren "half deserted streets" reveal "one night cheap hotels/And sawdust restaurants and "streets that follow like a tedious argument". Pru8frock's imagery progresses from the general to the specific and tellingly from the elevated to the low. We go from general look of the skyline to the streets, to a cheap hotel to sawdust covered floor in restaurants. This debasement continues throughout the poem both literally in the verticality of the images and figuratively in their emotional associations to Prufrock. The above images all speak to some part about Prufrock's personality. ...read more.


The most visually precise images in the poem are those of Prufrock himself, a Prufrock carefully composed only to be decomposed by the watching eyes of another into thin arms and legs, a balding head brought in upon a platter. "with a bald spot in the middle of my hair (They will say "How his hair is growing thin") My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin- (They will say "But how his arms and legs are thin") Prufrock is obsessed with his image. No matter how hard he tries he is always critical of his image and believes others will be too. Prufrock also mentions "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons". This signifies that he has broken his entire life into small episodes, and individual experiences and he feels his life is inadequate, just as a coffee spoon alone is inadequate for the taking of afternoon tea. It shows how meaning less his life is. As detailed Prufrock's eyes are, he feels the effect of the penetrating social gaze far more deeply. ...read more.


The Dante epigram casts a deathly pallor over the entire poem and Prufrock himself sees "the eternal footman hold my coat, and snicker". While he says in the next line "in short, I was afraid" in reference to his fear for social action, he may also be referring to the deathly figure awaiting him. The only thing in Prufrock's life not paralyzed is time. It marches on and Prufrock laments "I grow old...I grow old.../I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled". The rolled trouser, a popular bohemian style at that time, is a pathetic attempt to ward off death. Fantasizing a world where these problems do not exist is a pleasant daydream for Prufrock. He imagines a peaceful world under the sea where social classes do not exist. He will "walk upon the beach", though he probably will not venture near the water. He has had a romantic vision of mermaids singing an enchanting song, but assumes that they will not sing to him. His insecurity is still present and seems incurable. He will continue to live in a world of romantic daydreams-"the chambers of the sea", but his fantasy world is brought to a crashing halt easily. "Till human voices wake us and we drown". His only happiness can be found in daydreams and can be destroyed easily as such. ...read more.

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