Love Songs By Prufrock And Preludes By

Eliot Essay, Research Paper

Both Prufrock and Preludes are based in the same rootless world of sordid

tedium. In Prufrock Eliot is conveying a theme a strong theme and is based

heavily in the Persona of Prufrock himself. Preludes is a poem of changing

moods, some subtle, some profound but this time conveyed primarily through

diction and repetition. One theme of Eliot?s, The Love Song of J. Alfred

Prufrock, is the exposure of the modern individual?s inability and refusal to

address inadequacies that he sees in both him and his society. Two ways Eliot

conveys his theme is through the persona of Prufrock and repetition . One method

used by Eliot to expose this theme is his use of the persona of J Alfred

Prufrock. Prufrock is in part a shallow conformist, 41 ….My morning coat, my

collar mounting firmly to the chin, 42 My necktie rich and modest, but asserted

by a simple pin- 43 (They will say: ?But how his arms and legs are

thin!?)…… However, almost tragically, Eliot has Prufrock aware of the

shallowness of the society to which he conforms. 26 There will be time, there

will be time 27 To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet. Prufrock

observes his society?s ability to totally disregard any question of substance,

that is, the ?overwhelming? questions. Yet despite his observations Prufrock

is not prepared to confront his society, more importantly, himself. In deeper

tragedy Prufrock is defeated by his knowledge of his inadequacies and states

quite sincerely, ?And in short, I was afraid? Two of the minor themes of

?The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock? concern the frustrations felt by the

individual towards their society. Specifically the individuals insignificance in

their society and the individuals inability to express themselves and be

understood as an individual within that society. Repetition plays a crucial role

in conveying the theme of insignificance. The repetition of, ?They will

say:..?, conveys Prufrock?s feeling of insignificance and reveal a man

totally absorbed in the judgments of others and not at all concerned with his

worth as an individual. Eliot?s repetition of ?Do I dare?? within the

sixth stanza emphasises Prufrock?s feeling of insignificance. ?Do I dare/

Disturb the universe?? Despite the superficial judgments his society passes on

him, Prufrock is still hesitant in speaking out against their empty lives.

Prufrock is an extraordinary character and one who, despite his struggles, could

easily erode into a world content with the futile pleasures of the society he

scorns. Preludes is a series of four lyrics describing a modern city. The poem

moves through four different time periods, beginning with one evening and

continuing though to the following evening. Through these lyrics Eliot conveys

the impression of a life that is soul destroying and meaningless. Preludes is

used to explore the theme of the alienation of the individual from society. The

mood is integral to understanding Eliot?s vision. It is the moods of

desolation and despair, loneliness and struggle, affection and gentle care that

reflects Eliot?s observations of the individual alienated from society. These

moods are conveyed throughout the careful use of diction, imagery and

repetition. Prelude I begins with an attractive, familiar setting, a winter

evening. This however is short lived as we are immediately confronted with a

decaying, suffocating world, 2 With smells of steaks in passageways… 4 The

burnt-out ends of smoky days. Eliot creates a mood of desolation and loneliness

through diction and imagery. The precise use of descriptive words compose this

very mood. Words such as, ?burnt out?, ?gusty?, ?grimy?,

?vacant?, ?broken?, and ?lonely?, help set the mood for the

remainder of the poem. In Prelude II the poem shifts to morning, but instead of

the freshness and optimism normally associated with such a time, the morning is

depicted, like a drunk awakening on the footpath, as coming ?to

consciousness?, vague and unsure of itself. Eliot creates a mood of desolation

through sense-imagery: 14 The morning comes to consciousness 15 Of faint stale

smells of beer 16 From the sawdust-trampled street… Eliot?s repetition of

?all? and use ?a thousand? in his description of the masses as an

anonymous herd the impersonal mood of emptiness. While through imagery Eliot

develops a mood of despair and meaninglessness, the robotic movements of the

occupance of rented apartments lift ?dingy shades?. 17 With all its muddy

feet that press 18 To early coffee-stands. 21 ….One think of all the hands 22

That are raising dingy shades 23 In a thousand furnished rooms. In Prelude III

the poem narrows its perspective from the masses down to a particular

individual. Eliot creates a mood that lacks all human warmth through his

repetition of ?You? in the first three lines. This mood continues throughout

the lyric as every image presented, of souls filled with sordid images, of

sparrows gathered in the gutter, of jaundiced yellow soles of feet and of soiled

hands, all lack any trace of beauty. Prelude IV depicts the struggle of an

individual to preserve his particular morals and values against those of modern

society, symbolised by the street. Eliot achieves a mood of struggle through

surrealist imagery depicting the individual?s agony as his morals and values

are, ?…stretched tight across the skies…? The unrelenting nature of city

life is captured in the lines, 41… trampled by insistent feet 42 At four and

five and six o?clock; This mood of regimental movements contrasts with the

reflective mood later in the lyric when Eliot addresses the reader. The second

stanza in this lyric conveys a entirely distinct mood. It is here that Eliot,

compassionately observes scene. It could be said that the observer in this

stanza was the person behind the masquerade mentioned earlier in the poem. The

observer notices something, ?infinitely gentle?, kind and sad about the

suffering beings. This mood is expressed through the combination of sound and

repetition. The humane quality of the phrases, ?I am moved…? and ?..that

are curled/ Around these images,…? convey a considerably softer, more

reflective mood. This mood is furthered in the repetition of such words as

?infinitely? as their sympathetic appeal to time lulls the reader into a

sense of security. The third stanza reverses this feeling of gentleness when the

view point is again reversed, this time reverting to the impersonal observer

seen earlier. Through this observer Eliot appears to scorn sentiment and deny

any purpose at all to human suffering. Eliot ends Preludes by reaffirming his

previous moods, leaving us with the sentiment that the actions of the world are

desolation, despair and continuing struggle. 53 The worlds revolve like ancient

women 54 Gathering fuel in vacant lots. Through the use of diction, imagery and

repetition Eliot conveys an array of moods; from the desolation and despair in

the majority of the poem to the flicker of soft, compassionate human touch felt

briefly in the forth lyric. The three major methods Eliot utilises to convey his

moods and themes are the introduction of complex persona, precise diction and

emphasizing repetition. It is through these tools the constant struggle between

the individual and society is conveyed.

Warren. Understanding Poetry. Holt, USA 1966 (p. 112-5) Spurr. The Poetry of

T.S. Eliot. Glebe, Sydney 1992 (p. 2-10) Powell. Appreciating Poetry. Malaysia,

1986 (p. 91-93) 1 2 3 0 Wds


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