Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


Since we talked in more depth about the poem today, I thought it might be helpful to review the poem. We discussed how both Prufrock and Underground Man live in urban environment, loathe themselves, and feel alienated from society. Both are also restless and fail to progress.
In addition, we talked about how both "Notes from Underground" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" use yellow to convey stagnation and pollution of the environment and mind. In addition to the yellow snow, I also thought of the "lemon colored" gloves that the Underground determines are not as sophisticated as the black gloves. He says, "'That would be too glaring, as if the person wanted to be noticed'; so I didn't buy the lemon-colored ones." (570).
Can you all notice any other similarities between "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "Notes from Underground"?


Chloe said...

Obviously the theme of isolation is a common thread in both works. Both Prufrock and the Underground Man are separated from society and suffer from their own conscious thoughts and perceptions of reality. Neither Prufrock nor the Underground Man can progress, connect, or find true happiness. They're plagued by their own mental suffering.

Olivia Celata said...

"The Love Song..." consists of J. Alfred Prufrock's stream of conscious, just as Part I of Notes contains all of the Underground Man's thoughts. At times both characters seem to contemplate taking action or trying to connect with others. However, they both fail out of fear, even though they don't necessarily want to admit it to themselves.

C-Sted said...

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— 40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare 45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

These are probably my favorite lines in the entire poem. Besides the inability to take decisive action (hello, Hamlet), we also observe extreme self-consciousness. Prufrock presumes that other people will think of him in a certain way, just as the Underground Man expects that his co-workers will judge him.

I am also interested by the line, "Do I dare disturb the universe?" We all know that neither Prufrock nor the Underground Man could work up the courage to do so. However, I doubt they could upset the universe even if they did try. They are lost amidst the insignificant masses of the world. What do you think?