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FBernardini - The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
[author: Francesco Bernardini - postdate: 2008-01-09]

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is one of the most important works by T.S. Eliot. Starting from the title, the reader immediately realizes that there is a recall to John Donne's works, that were mainly songs. Also the surname Prufrock is meaningful because it has got a harsh sound that recalls the idea of rock; while the name Alfred reminds King Alfred the Great.


As for the structure, the text is made up of scenes, just like a drama,  according to Modernist rules. The scenes don't have any connection among them. There is a structural device, a refrain ("The women come and go talking of Michelangelo") creating a unity between scenes; it underlines how such important matters like Michelangelo's art are treated by superficial and common conversations without respect for the genius.


The speaking voice is a middle age man, J. Alfred Prufrock, against the Romantic idea of a young hero.


The text opens up with a quotation from  Dante's Inferno: it is a sentence pronounced by Guido da Montefeltro, who after a life spent on battlefields became a friar. He speaks unseen and tells his story to Dante, convinced as he is that the poet would never return on Earth.


 The persona of Prufrock speaks on the same assumption to a reader whom he believes to share his same  dreariness of his life.

The text starts with the famous line "Let us go you and I", after which the reader asks himself/herself who the "you" is.


"You" is Prufrock's conscience, to whom he speaks in a dramatic monologue.


Autumn is a frequent topos in English poetry, together with the fog and the night; the description of motels and restaurants gives the idea of a degraded city, and a society that has lost its values. The yellow fog that shapes the figure of a cat gives an idea of sensuality.