From is the mask he puts on when he

From the title we can get the sense
that this man who is speaking to us in a dramatic monologue is unusual. The
original title is “Prufrock Among the women” but a title from Kipling’s stuck
to Eliot’s mind which is “The Love Song of Har Dyal” so he changed the name. He
used a six line poem from Dante’s Inferno. Which Dante goes into hell and then
comes back out. This passage is about a soul speaking to Dante because the soul
though no body really leaves this place so it’s okay his whole story to Dante
and that no one will ever know about it. It turns out the soul is wrong and
Dante does tell about it and embarrasses the soul. Thus of course embarrassment
is one of the themes of the following poem. 

{1} I think that “you and I” refers
to the writer’s private and public self. The private is when he is alone. The
public is the mask he puts on when he is out. {2-3} this is not a pleasant
image for the sunset “like a patient etherized upon a table” is a body without
liveliness it’s dead even though it’s not all the way dead. This is an image
that sets up the tone of bleakness. {4-7} now he is describing some of the
things along the walk. The “sawdust” tell us that this is not a fancy
establishment.

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{8-12} Okay, so now we know that they
are walking through the streets to visit somebody. The streets are half
deserted. “Like a tedious argument” this argument which is a line of reasoning
that is “of insidious intent” which leads to an “over whelming question” and
one of my questions is what is the over whelming question? Eliot doesn’t
directly tells us what that question is so we have to explore more. And again I
have that feeling of bleakness and no hopefulness.

{13-14} In this line it’s almost like
a little song in the middle here. And he is describing where it is they are
visiting. So they are in a place where women are going by and talking about the
artist Michelangelo. {15-16} Okay, so now the smoke is like an animal that has
a muzzle. {17} So it seems mostly like a cat here.

{18-22} This is all personification
describing fog or yellow smoke. Thus, again we are in a not pretty part of the
city. It’s yellow because it’s industrial. Even though the cat imagery is kind
of interesting and creative it’s not really a happy image. And we have the fog
all the way up in the sky and down to the pools and drains. So we are moving
from looking to the sky and then down to the ground.

{23-25} Now this line “there will be
time” refers to there is always more time for the fog and smoke to wonder
around some more. And we have wonderful language here as far as the smoke
“rubbing its back upon the window-panes”. But then he says {26-27} it’s how
when you go to a social situation and you have to prepare your face. So you
prepare a persona through which you will be acting. Like pretending to be
cheerful or polite to someone you don’t actually want to be to.

{28-30} so this is about things he
actually wants to do with life. In our life we murder the bad habits and create
new ones. We get rid of old identities and form new ones. So all the things you
might do in a day with your hands that drop a question on your plate. So now we
see the mentioning of a question once more! {31-34} a toast and tea makes me
think that this gathering or visit is actually a tea party. I noticed how he
says “time for me and time for you” he’s speaking either to the reader again or
maybe now the “you” feels more like a companion he’s speaking to. So maybe we
are hearing a conversation between two people even though only one part is
talking. The “indecisions” seems to be one of the traits of the speaker, he
doesn’t make decisions, and there is this overwhelming question that we don’t
know. And there is this worry of going to the place he is visiting. And all
this imagery that is uncomfortable and bleak. Thus he is not able to act and
make a decision. So he is thinking of a hundred visions and revisions. So
basically planning to do something but then changing his mind. So what I can
tell is that he is not secure and not confident.

{35-36} While he was thinking about
the visions and revisions. The women are still walking around the room talking
about the famous artist Michelangelo. So I can see that he is not participating
in this visit and he is not being social with the people in the room. So far he
didn’t meet anyone or talk to anyone.

{37-48} He has a thing about time I
guess. I believe there is something that he wants to do here at this social
event but he asks himself do I dare though?? So I can see he is nervous about
doing what he wants to do. Is he brave enough to do it? But then he thinks
there is time to turn back and go down the stairs but afraid that people will
notice and comment the bold spots on his head. Commenting that maybe he looks
old even though he feels like he is dressed alright “my necktie rich and
modest, but asserted by a simple pin”. And now he feels dressing alright is not
enough because people will start commenting on how thin he is. He is worried
about what people think of him and about looking silly or old. I believe maybe
he’s just being paranoid and he looks fine and people are not even talking
about him. And when he asks himself “do I dare?” I think he is asking himself
that question because obviously he is not young, so does he dare feel shy about
these things if he is not young?

{49-54} He means he knows all the
people all this whole social situation of this gathering. He says he is
familiar with all of the parties for quite a while. It feels like he is tired
of the social gatherings because they are constant. The mentioning of dying
repeats itself again like in {39} when he said descend and at the beginning
where Dante was in hell. It is kind of a downward motion of the poem. The
voices or the conversations of the people are ending. And that is not a happy
image as well.  And he is questioning
himself “so how should I presume?”

{55-61} he talks about how he already
knows these events and these eyes of people. So I think he is trying to have a
conversation with someone but he knows people always pin him to the wall. And
people always try asking some formulated phrase superficial and pleasantry
questions. A pin is used to pin insects to study them. So maybe he feels pinned
to be studied and analyzed. And he doesn’t feel free to express himself being
pinned. His days and ways would not be a good conversation and people don’t
want to hear that. So I see that he can’t find a way to engage with people in
this setting. {62-69} instead of talking about the whole people he talks about
the eyes and the hands of people. As I can see he is talking about women here.
He notices every detail about the women and then he says maybe that’s why I
can’t talk. So I can see that maybe he is attracted to these women and that he
feels intimidated. He is observing the women very closely and that they make
him nervous. {68-69} he doesn’t know how to have a conversation with the women
to talk about his life or anything.

{70-72} for me I think that doesn’t sound
like a good conversation starter. So he is doubting himself about wither to
talk about this topic or not. {73-74} here again he puts himself in a
subterranean level. He is saying I should way down because I’m so weird and
unlikeable.

{75-78} so again he is using the
personification to talk about how the evening sleeps peacefully between you and
me now instead of being a patient etherized upon a table like in the beginning.
But then he say “Asleep … tired … or it malingers” so this is a negative line to
through in with this peaceful image. The evening is malingering so we can’t
really trust it peaceful sleep. So I think he refers to a time after this whole
tea party thing and he doesn’t know how he should feel about how this social
thing went.

{79-80} he meant to do something and
take some action and say something that would have forced the moment to a
crisis but he didn’t do it. {81-82} even though I have wept and prayed and now
I’m older with my bold head. I’m not doing all this suffering to be a prophet
even though I feel persecuted like John the Baptist. He feels persecuted maybe
socially. Not fitting in society just like a prophet doesn’t fit in. {83-84} he
still says he is not a prophet. The potential he could have had to be great it
has flickered and weakened. {85-86} now we have yet another death image. “And I
have seen the eternal footman hold my coat…” it’s like death is standing there
saying come right this way while making fun of him as if his life or death is a
joke. He is questioning the worth of his life. He’s feeling that even death is
going to laugh at his expense.

{87-98} he’s questioning wither it
has been worth it after all of that at the gathering and some talk of you and
me. {89} “You” to some people refers to the companion or that the reader
becomes the companion. But I think he is his own companion as I said in my
second paragraph. {90-91} He wonders if he should’ve gone with it and talked
about it and smiled with no fear. {92} he wants to squeeze the universe into a
ball and roll it to the overwhelming question we have all been wondering of.
What is that question? Is it about the women? Does he want to maybe ask a woman
to marry him? {94} here he says an example of what he might say. Again we have
here a death image. Lazarus in the bible is brought back to life by Jesus. He
was in the after death. He is able to come back and say something about where
he has been. So maybe Prufrock is saying I have something to tell all of you
about my journeys. {96-98} maybe he’s saying every time a women asks him a
question or gets him to talk. Although if he says what he wants to say they
would be confused and look at him strangely. And the women is saying that is
not what I meant at all. So maybe his answer is not the answer for her
question.

{99-110} all these details are from
the social gathering. Here we have repetition as well as rhyme. It’s like he
keeps circling back to this problem. It’s like he wants a way to make these
social things work. Maybe if he says the right thing or does the right thing he
thinks. {104} although he questioning what if, at the end he know it’s
impossible and would never happen. He is quite certain that he would be
misunderstood.

{111-119} the question for a while is
“would it have been worth it?”  And the
answer is NO. {111} prince hamlet is a play of William Shakespeare and Polonius
the lord who attends to the king in the play and Polonius is not a likable
character. He does some mean stuff in the play he is considered a fool and
takes himself too seriously. {112} he leaves the “I” in “Am an attendant lord
one that will do” and I think that’s because he has such a weak sense of self
or ego that he doesn’t even use the word “I”.  {113-119} here we can see some of Polonius’s
characteristics and also the speakers. It’s 
like he’s saying that he’s not a main character of a play but he’s like
a secondary character who is a fool but glad to be of use but isn’t the hero.
So basically he doesn’t see himself in a good way.

{120-121} this is a style that young
people are wearing at this time period, so maybe he is saying that he’ll try
this type of style to look younger. But I think these rolling trousers are not
going to fix the problems he’s facing. The lack of confidence he has is bigger
than to be fixed with a certain style.

{122-124} he thinking maybe covering
the bold spots will help lift up his confidence. I think that he worries too
much about aging and afraid of death as in {86}. “Do I dare to eat a peach?”
here he is thinking of doing something that people full of life would do and
savor it. And peach is also associated with femininity and savoring sensuality.
And my guess is that he won’t be doing that. {123-124} now here it sounds kind
of positive. It’s a little moment of hope here. {125} he went negative so
fast!! So here they are not singing to him so he is left out of that as well.

{126-128} so he has seen the mermaids
out there and that tells us maybe there is something special about him. It’s
too bad that he hasn’t been able to express that special thing. He did see
something special and it would be great if it’s like Lazarus to come back and
tells us about it. {129-131} a sad ending here. He says “we” maybe he is trying
to involve the reader here or maybe his companion. {129} we have been in the
subterranean level in the sea in caves hanging out there. Maybe that is a
metaphor for the unconscious for the creative artist who goes down into the
imaginative depth of his psyche. It seems like he has had some kind of experience
that is like exploring the underwater caves and he has hanged out there for a
while. In these under water caves there is sea-girls {130} so in the subterranean
level there is seaweed so there is life. But with the sea-girls who I think is
the mermaids I think maybe it is an imaginary life or the underground source of
life. {131} so they were lingered underwater and they were okay there until the
human voice woke them and they drown. It tells me that once the regular life
comes in you can’t maintain the imaginative life. Or maybe it’s like the human
voices are the calls upon you, the duties of the world or the social
constraints outside of this mythical sea chamber place. Then you drown because
you can’t maintain life in an imaginative world. The sad ending is that he
can’t make it in the human world and yet he can’t stay in his imaginative world
either because eventually he’ll wakeup and drown by human voice. 

x

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