“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Although decadence is prevalent throughout the poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot, but it also diverges from it. Decadence means the tawdry subject matter, having low morals, and being only interested in pleasure.

This poem has many portions of which Eliot uses decadence to conceptualize his story, but majorly Eliot uses Prufrock interest in pleasure. Prufrock describes his experience of what can be preceded as a one night stand, “Let us go then, you and I/ Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, /The muttering retreats/ Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels/…Streets that follow like a tedious argument/ Of insidious intent” (1,9). It seems as though Prufrock is with someone and is interested in having pleasure with them. Also, the lines “like a patient etherized upon a table” can mean explicitly mean that they are having sex (2). The word etherize means to make numb, while in this excerpt it can directly mean about their “restless night.” While Eliot uses decadence throughout his story, he also strays from it.

Eliot diverges from decadence by Prufrock becoming interested in his future. Prufrock says, “I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;/ I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, / And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, / And in short, I was afraid” (83,86). This shows that Prufrock begins to think about how his future will ultimately materialize. He already precedes that his future is not going to be glorious, and frightful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on ““The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

  1. I agree with your conclusion that Prufrock is focusing on pleasure while contemplating decadence, but I believe he deviates from it in more than just planning for the future.

    “Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,/ The muttering retreats/ Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels/ And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:/ Streets that follow like a tedious argument/ Of insidious intent” (4-9). Prufrock describes pleasures, but mentions with them a sense of cheapness or filth. In a way, while implying that he pursues these pleasures and enjoys them, Prufrock seems to be implying that they are unclean and cheap. Through this. Prufrock deviates from standard decadence by acknowledging the cheapness of it.

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