Love Songs By Prufrock And Preludes By Eliot

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.

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Bibliography
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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