Prufrock’s World As A Microcosm Of T.S. Eliot’s Own World
Prufrock’s stream of consciousness is far too extensive to automatically connect to the poet’s own, but by examining Eliot’s time period, the reader is able to observe the personal connection.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was written between 1910 and 1911, prior to the start of World War I. Society during this time period was unstable and uncertain because they feared the depiction World War I was steadily developing into:
The time period was also living under the very last remnants of the Victorian Era, the culture where people typically practiced to uphold themselves in a prim, prudish, and conservative manner despite what may be going on around them. This is clearly reflected in Prufrock’s perceptions of the people, his environment and overall reality of hell (as detailed in 4 Disturbing Revelations Found In Prufrock’s Love Songs).
“[World War I] created an epoch in art,” said Leo Braudy, a professor of English from the University of Southern California, in “Art changed by World War I.” Eliot engaged in this “epoch” known as Modernism: “that slippery but indispensible term denoting a wide range of new sensibilities and aesthetic responses to the industrial age.”
Which Links To Robert Browning.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was modeled after the dramatic monologues of Victorian writer, Robert Browning.
“My Last Duchess” (1842) is a prime example of Browning’s poetic monologues which analyzes a duke’s feeble Victorian disguise that failed to conceal the murderer and gold digger he was. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” though, was written in a “…strikingly new and jarring idiom…breaking up the unified voice at the center of Browning’s experiments with startling juxtapositions and transitions…” (Damrosch and Dettmar 2285). Eliot depicts Prufrock as so incredibly pathetic and depressing, that his monologue is more satirical than anything else. Eliot’s style then serves to dramatically reflect his opinion that modern day society’s Victorian façade, just like twentieth century Victorians, are failing because society is only distorting their consciousness. Eliot’s poem therefore not only breaks away from Victorian conventions, but he also sets himself and his consciousness apart from the society who remained in it – just like how Prufrock isolated himself away from the façades of his society.
By analyzing Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” we are given a subliminal analyses, critique, and reaction to the societal conditions the poet experienced in their actual surroundings. Poetry therefore supports Noë’s theory by demonstrating that a poet’s environment influences not just their mental consciousness, but also their physical actions through their decisions in how to conduct their writing. It is not merely enough to be present in an environment to spark our consciousness though. It is the necessity of mentally and physically interacting with the environment, because,