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Strains 87-131 Abstract:

Prufrock wonders if, after numerous social gestures, it could have been worthwhile to behave decisively if it resulted in a lady’s rejection of him. He thinks he isn’t a Prince Hamlet determine, however a secondary character in life. Anxious over rising previous, he adopts the fashions of youth. By the seashore, he sees photographs of mermaids singing and swimming.


The motion within the remaining part of the poem swings from pretty concrete, reasonable scenes from the social world – “After the cups, the marmalade, the teaŠAfter the novels, and the teacups, after the skirts that path alongside the ground” (88, 102) – to improbable photographs of mermaids “using seaward on the waves / Combing the white hair of the waves blown again” (126-127). Eliot’s goal correlative grows extra imprecise; what precisely does Prufrock really feel right here? Maybe Prufrock himself is not sure: “It’s unimaginable to say simply what I imply! / However as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a display screen” (104-105). His personal inarticulacy leads to the magic lantern’s wild kaleidoscopic imagery of teacups and mermaids; other than desperation and loneliness, confusion is among the goal correlative’s important emotional associations.

However Prufrock exhibits a smart self-regard when he admits he’s

not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that may do

To swell a progress, begin a scene or two,

Advise the prince; little doubt, a straightforward instrument,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;


Hamlet, Shakespeare’s well-known tragic hero from the play of the identical identify, is literature’s different nice indecisive man. Hamlet waffles between desirous to kill his stepfather and holding off for a wide range of causes. The allusion, then, is considerably ironic, since Prufrock will not be whilst decisive as Hamlet is. As an alternative, he’s extra just like the doddering Polonius of Hamlet (the “for you your self, sir” quote from Hamlet 2.2.205-206, if the “ragged claws” [73] line alludes to it, is spoken by Hamlet to Polonius), or the traditional Shakespearean “Idiot” (119). Prufrock is the second-in-command at greatest, and he comes off as a mock-hero; even the absence of an “I” previous “Am an attendant lord” bespeaks his lack of ego. The quite a few caesurae (pauses) from commas and semicolons within the stanza underscore Prufrock’s stagnation and paralysis.

The one factor in Prufrock’s life not paralyzed is time; it marches on, and Prufrock laments “I develop previous . . . I develop previous . . . / I shall put on the bottoms of my trousers rolled” (121). The rolled trouser, a preferred bohemian type on the time, is a pathetic try to thrust back demise. Whereas he continues to be concerned in regards to the future, Prufrock now appears to treat the longer term, paradoxically, from a future standpoint. His chorus of “And wouldn’t it have been price it, in spite of everything” (87, 99) locations his actions within the excellent conditional tense. It’s as if he’s reviewing actions he has but to take. Both time has accelerated his ageing course of, or this look to the previous is a approach for Prufrock to delude himself into considering he has made some decisive progress in life.

Beforehand, Prufrock questioned if he ought to “dare / Disturb the universe” (45-46) and squeeze “the universe right into a ball” (92). The latter is a reference to Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”: “Allow us to roll all our energy and all / Our sweetness up into one ball, / And tear our pleasures with tough strife / Thorough the iron gates of life” (41-44). Marvell urges his girl to interact in intercourse with him, as demise attracts ever nearer and their time is operating out.

Prufrock, however, is aware of he’s going to die quickly however he nonetheless can not even “dare to eat a peach” (122). Whereas Eliot’s important intent is to trivialize Prufrock’s anxieties – a easy piece of fruit confounds him – the peach has a number of different doable meanings. First, it’s the Chinese language image for marriage and immortality, two issues Prufrock needs. Furthermore, the peach, via form and texture, has lengthy been a logo for feminine genitalia. Prufrock’s nervousness about consuming a peach, then, has a lot to do along with his emotions of sexual inadequacy, his fear that his balding head and skinny physique earn him the scorn of girls.

Accordingly, Prufrock instantly switches his consideration to the mermaids “singing, every to every” (124) – the society of girls who ignore him. The elusive photographs maybe have extra cohesion than on first look:

I’ve seen them using seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown again

When the wind blows the water white and black.


Prufrock has simply questioned “Shall I half my hair behind?” (122), and beforehand he has agonized over his bald spot, turned his eager eye to the ladies’s arms “downed with mild brown hair!” (64), and agonized over consuming a fuzzy peach. Mermaids are conventionally depicted combing their hair with a mirror, in order symbols of vainness and luxurious magnificence – “wreathed with seaweed crimson and brown” (130), they possess much more synthetic hair – they threaten Prufrock (whose thinning hair is probably now a salt-and-pepper combination of “white and black” and now not “crimson and brown”).

When Prufrock finishes the poem by announcing “We’ve lingered within the chambers of the oceanŠUntil human voices wake us, and we drown” (129, 131), he completes the vertical descent Eliot has been deploying all through the poem. He has plunged into his personal Dantesque underworld and, via the “We” pronoun, forces us to accompany him – hoping, like da Montefeltro from the epigraph, that we won’t be able to return to the mermaids on prime and disgrace him by repeating his story.

The concluding two three-line stanzas act as a sestet (six strains). Though the rhyme scheme differs (right here it’s abbcdd), Petrarchan sonnets complement the opening octet (first eight strains) with a sestet. That is Eliot’s remaining mock-allusion to yet one more Renaissance artist (after Dante and Michelangelo). Petrarch unrequitedly mooned after his love, Laura, however Prufrock, whose identify sounds very similar to Petrarch’s, doesn’t even have an unattainable very best love. He has unattainable, pissed off, paralyzed need for all ladies who reject him; they’re all inaccessible, and any reminder of the social world (“human voices”) drowns him – and, he hopes, his reader-as-Dante – deeper in his watery Hell.

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