Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 1: 9/1-9/4

'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' by T.S. Eliot

The fifth stanza of this poem really stands out to me because of its hopeful tone toward what the future will hold. The repetition of the word 'time' is calming and eases any worries of not having enough time to do everything you want in life. But what Prufrock is saying doesn't really make sense. Even though he's having a somewhat optimistic view on life, he's only lying to himself. He says that time is infinite and this is obviously not the case.

Another part of this poem that interests me is Eliot's repetition of questions he asks the reader. Both, "So how should I presume?" and "Would it have been worth while," are repeated three times. The questions seem to balance with each other, the first asking about the future and the second looking back on past events. I appreciate these questions because they give the poem a little rest and are relatable to how individuals go through life. You don't usually stop to ponder these questions, but we all encounter them. By having Prufrock ponder these questions, the poem has an anxious and resentful tone. The first stanza says, "To lead you to an overwhelming question..." and then leaves it there. I think these are the overwhelming questions in the poem. The questions take one on a vicious cycle of over analyzing ones every move.

Eliot also brings up the theme of permanence. The line, "In the room the women come and go," Eliot hints at how nothing in life is permanent. He's almost saying don't spend too much time on one thing or person because in the end its probably not worth it. Michelangelo is also mentioned after this line. He is a highly regarded artist so this could be a social commentary on how people are always looking for something 'better' in life. The reader probably feels bad for Prufrock at this point because he's saying how women always come and go and don't pay attention to him.

Through out the poem it is apparent Prufrock has a love interest. Prufrock is unable to express his feelings and as much as he tries to talk himself into it, he never does anything to get the girl. Rejection seems to scary him so much that he says, "It is impossible to say just what I mean!" In a way Prufrock's inability to approach this girl is very much relevant in todays society. Even though Prufrock is an extreme case, may people can relate to not doing something out of fear or anxiety at the potential bad outcomes.

Going back to the line, 'Would it have been worth while;' the poem continues after these lines and lists other things they could have done in the past. The poem is alluding to times in life when you look back and think 'What if?' But after the 'what ifs' Eliot ends the stanza with, "That is not it at all,/ That is not what I meant at all." This gives me the feeling that Prufrock is overwhelmed. He can't get this thoughts out straight and he's always anxious about what he's trying to get across.

The last three stanzas confused me the most. It starts out with simple questions which leads me to think the overwhelming question is actually simple after all. Eliot including mermaids was interesting to me. Mermaids are half human and half fish so maybe Eliot is alluding to the many different sides of a person or how people all walk through life differently. It's also ironic how the poem ends with death, but a theme in this poem is how time is infinite.

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

When juxtaposing Flannery's, "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," and Eliots poem, 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,' I looked at the main character The Misfit. The Misfit and Prufrock are similar in their thinking, but differ when it comes to the actions they take. The Misfit is a criminal who doesn't feel remorse for any of his crimes. He seems to contemplate his actions which relates to Prufrock, but unlike him, The Misfit follows through without remorse. He knows they are wrong, but he says, "I can't make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment." He sees his past punishments as payment for his future wrong doings. 

Another similarity I found between the poem and short story, are that they both have ironic titles. In 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," its really not a love song but a longing for love. And in "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," the title served as a foreshadowing to conflict of the story when the family comes across a 'bad' man.

This short story created a lot of questions for me:
What is the characterization of the Grandmother suppose to make the reader feel?
What is happening in the concluding line of the story?
Why does the grandmother refer to The Misfit as one of her children in the conclusion of the story?

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