Societies Effects &Quot;The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock&Quot;

1724 words - 7 pages

Society gives us a set of unspoken rules and regulations that must be abided by or else society becomes ones own worst enemy; thus is Eliot's' message in his poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." This poem has been given a cynical voice in which Eliot tries to convey his message of modern society and its expectations. He is in a position in which he knows what the flaws in society are but does not have the courage or the ability to convey the message to the rest of the people. He fears what "they" might say and how "they" will treat him, will ruin him if he exploits society. Eliot gives evidence of the mockery society exhibits in line 41: "They will say: `How his hair is growing thin!'"(775) He knows that there are certain things that the puritan society will always talk about. Such things are physical appearance, the image of a woman and the extent of a persons' religiousness. However, the last is not expressed as much as the others. Eliot uses many very effective literary devices that help him portray his views on modern society. He conveys his views of modern society or actually the lack there of, by using metaphors (allusions to other texts), diction and imagery. He uses these to try to convey his message about what he thinks of modern society.

Eliot has a vast knowledge of other literary works. For example Eliot uses Dante's Inferno as his epigraph. He uses this in a metaphoric way in which he implies that if he could convey his message about society after being part of it, he would. However, because he does not have enough courage to do so, he can not convey his message openly and with authority: "`if I thought I was speaking to someone who could go back to the world, this flame would shake me no more'" (775). In this epigraph the reader gets the idea that Alfred, the character Eliot uses in the poem, is guilty of that which he is trying to convey in the poem about society. This establishes the theme and thus the tone of the poem. Towards the end of the poem the reader gains a sense of irony and sarcasm that is expressed within the tone: "Till human voices wake us, and we drown" (778). "Human voices" is supposed to represent a helping hand in which any person in trouble can be helped by humanity. However, these human voices only cause the person in need to "drown" in their words. This is ironic because, as indicated above, humanity is the coexistence of a fellow human with the help (if necessary and available) of another fellow human when he/she is in need of it. However, metaphorically speaking, the person in need in the poem (Alfred) only receives negativity and hostility from society and his fellow men, thus causing him/her to drown in the words of the human voices. This is the most important set back of society conveyed by Eliot in his poem. It is the last line in the poem and is the key to the poem.

Also, Eliot uses other text such as that, which is in the lines, "But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,...

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