The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

4187 words 17 pages
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Questions for Discussion
1. How does the epigraph from Dante’s Inferno help Eliot comment on the modern world in“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”? What does it tell us about the setting of this poem? How is Montefeltro’s miscalculation related to the poem?
Prufrock laments that the mermaids will not sing to him.
Prufrock's dilemma represents the inability to live a meaningful existence in the modern world.[24] McCoy and Harlan wrote "For many readers in the 1920s, Prufrock seemed to epitomize the frustration and impotence of the modern individual. He seemed to represent thwarted desires and modern disillusionment."[22] poem uses the stream of consciousness technique.

"If I but
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The other thing to know about the title is that it’s completely ironic in light of the poem, which is not so much a "love song" as the depressed ramblings of a lonely and cowardly man. If you have ever seen The Daily Show or one of the other "fake news" programs, then you know the kind of irony that’s at work here. The title of the poem is only pretending to be serious, while the poem itself is more like a "fake love song."
6. Eliot began writing this poem in 1909, when he was in college at Harvard. He continued to revise it until it was published in 1917. Some critics have commented that it is the poem of a young man, even though its narrator is middle aged. What qualities reveal the poem as a young man’s work?
7. An early review of the poem in the Times Literary Supplement (London) stated, “The fact that these things occurred to the mind of Mr. Eliot is surely of the very smallest importance to anyone, even to himself. They certainly have no relation to poetry” (June 21, 1917). Do you agree?
I’m sure there are plenty of sexually frustrated people in this world who find this to be appealing. Since I’m an asexual being I obviously can’t relate, but disagree that his word,” of surely of the very smallest importance to anyone.”

8. Eliot was in the avant-garde as a young poet, but he considered himself a traditionalist as he got older. What are the innovative aspects of this poem? Look for evidence of the traditionalism that


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