I propose that the once-repeated lines are not frumps at a societal shindig, and not TS Eliot’sreality, but they are an illustration of a 22-year-old-Eliot’s augural fantasy, just as the entire poem issuchwise. In “Prufrock,” he sees a path that his life could take, that of the tortured, tavern-hauntingpoet being doted upon by drunken pseudo-intellectual dames (showing his infamous misogyny),exploring how inferior they will be to him and how they will try to impress him with theircomprehension of the arts (though the character’s worth of worship is doubted in the poem). He usesthem to gratify himself, becoming bored with their adorations and horrified by their explorationsinto the meaning of his work, just as the Eliot of 22. In my interpretation, the “You” in “Prufrock,” isnot directed towards the reader, as so many speculate, but to one of the many fantasized sycophanticlovers he takes. “Let us go then, you and I,/When evening is spread out against the sky” and “Let usgo and make our visit” (have sex), and he speaks of the women in his room: (the afternoon andevening are) “Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me”, “settling a pillow by her head” and“the skirts that trail along the floor.” These lines are clearly not directed at party-goers at a museum,and why should these women be different than the women who come and go? He sees them gatheredround him in his room as he addresses them like a prophet returned from death, for such will be thedue power of his poetry, he imagines.
If this besotted, sexual, contemptuous concept is accepted asthe theme of the poem, it will bring us to our first little bit of irony: the title.“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” as a title in and of itself is ironic. Firstly, the humorlies in how one with such an austere name could come to show such passion as to compose a lovesong. Secondly, no interpretation of this poem could ever suggest that the character Prufrock is inlove; indeed, he is an exploiter of the concept. Even the name ‘Prufrock’ sounds like ‘defrock’,suggesting the desired loss of his virginity, or perhaps the opposite. The poem seems to have acertain void in it, caused by doubt and bitterness, a reluctance to state what he really wants to say, sothat whenever we read phrases of grandeur about disturbing the universe with his tremendous poeticlicense, we feel irony; when he expresses doubt of his prophet-like status amongst the drunken womanly rabble, we feel irony because the entire poem is an expression of desire, and, apparently:
James BarelaBenjamin - Eng 201