T.S Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and decadence

In “the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” T.S Eliot uses aspects of decadence such as metaphysical opening that has a conceit, appreciation to art, and flaunting that tells us about the speaker to exemplify the new style of modernism. The metaphysical aspect happens from the very beginning of the poem with “Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky” to show the opening conceit of having two lovers in the poem succumb to death together at a certain time of day (1-2). He also uses this to show how complexity of his style that was common in most modern texts. Another aspect of decadence was the appreciation of art in the poem with the mention of “Michelangelo” to show Eliot want others to appreciate art for themselves and not for society’s sake (14). This line is repeated in the poem to reiterate the appreciation of art and the importance of valuing it. Another aspect is the speaker flaunting toward his lover with “No, I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; /Am an attendant lord, one that will do” to show how he flaunts about himself by not being one that is far superior than him (111-112). Eliot also uses this to show how dissimilar he is toward the speaker of the poem and how much he is telling about himself. These are the ways in which elements of decadence are expressed through Eliot’s writing.

However, there are instances where Eliot does not use decadence in his poem. An instance of this is when he addresses the actions he made and then repeatedly questions himself before proceeding further in the next action. What is the use of such a style in the poem? Another aspect is his attention to detail with “yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes” that show how a form of aestheticism he uses instead of decadence in his poem (16). This detail also illustrates the profound love that he feels toward his lover as well.

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