‘The Love Songs of J. Alfred Prufrock’ Represents the Conflict of a Modern Man
Prufrock represents a man of split personality, a separation of head and heart, a paralysis of the will and too much worry regarding a love proposal. By referring to Hamlet he expresses his psychological problem, his irresolution, complicated by the fact that thought he is a middle-aged man, bald in the head, he is not hot blooded. He dresses smartly, smiles to ladies but he is unable to express his inner mind. His excuses for postponing the making of the love proposal arise from neurosis and from his fear of rejection. The poem highlights the dilemma and indecisiveness as well as the squalor and barrenness of modern urban civilization. The triviality and barrenness of modern life find a beautiful expression in the following line.
“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”.
Prufrock is conscious but he is conscious of nothing. He is like a patient lying etherized upon a table before operation. Having no strength left in him to act, he wanders mentally through the half deserted streets, till his mind reaches the most important question before him but he is afraid of mentioning it. His mind is in a tension. It is full of a hundred indecisions, “a hundred visions and revisions”. The problem with him is thought he knows the ladies, he is afraid of making a proposal for himself. He would definitely feel embarrassed.
At one time Prufrock thinks of a plan to make a proposal to his Ladylove, but he feels nervous to talk about himself. He is afraid of death and the very idea of death makes him reject his expressing love to a lady. Prufrock takes refreshment to gather courage to make a decision. Supposing he talked about his proposal to his lady but she might turn round and tell him that she had no desire to marry him. That is why he feels extremely nervous.
Although Prufrock is indecisive and inactive, he does not like to compare himself with Hamlet. He is like Polonius, middle-aged, conscious of his position, though double headed and sometimes ridiculous.