Character Analysis of J. Alfred Prufrock

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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a notable literary work by T. S. Eliot. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.


Sketch the character of J. Alfred Prufrock.


“Prufrock is an aging romantic entrapped by a rotting world of pseudo-gentility”. Discuss.


What impression of Prufrock do you form from your reading The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?

J. Alfred Prufrock is the central character in T.S. Eliot’s well-known poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915). He is a middle-aged and bald-headed man dressed elegantly. He loves to be in touch with women but fears making love proposals. He is outwardly brave and handsome but inwardly a coward to propose to his ladylove. 

Fear of Rejection: Prufrock is getting older with a romantic heart. He admires his appearance and is polite to ladies but cannot find the courage to express his feelings. He keeps himself aloof from proposing to the woman he loves as he is nervous and scared of rejection. He is very aware of his age despite having a bald spot on his head with thinning hair. He is self-conscious about his thin arms and legs, making him worry about what people might think of him. He talks about the supposed rejection of his beloved in the following manner:

“I do not think that they will sing to me.”

A Tragic Character: We find Prufrock as a tragic character. His tragedy lies in the fact that he cannot commit anything which may make him happy. His shyness is his tragic flaw. Despite having a deep woman fantasy, he fails to establish a satisfying love relationship, which creates a heavy turmoil inside him. 

Indecisive: Prufrock bears the same personality as Hamlet, a famous character from Shakespeare’s play. Hamlet is the Protagonist of the play by the same name and the prince of Denmark. He lacks enough courage to take timely action, bringing tragedy to him. Like him, Prufrock pretends to be brave but fails to make a love proposal. Though he is like Hamlet, he refuses it and says: 

“No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool.”

Dual Personality: Prufrock bears a dual personality, which suggests he has two sides to his character. He is both mentally and physically weak. He is getting older and feels weak, but at the same time, he cannot decide whether to propose to his sweetheart. He is shy and indecisive. It is like he has two selves – one romantic, emotional, and the other practical and realistic. The romantic side tells him to go and propose to the woman he loves, while the practical side warns him to do that. This internal conflict is the reason behind his indecision about proposing.

Lastly, Prufrock is a daydreamer who often fantasizes about beautiful things. He possesses a romantic heart and wants to escape from the harsh realities of life to a world filled with beauty and romance. Unfortunately, the practical aspects of life have always dominated his inner romantic self. So, he is stuck in a state of helplessness: he desires to flee but cannot find a way out.