The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock : quotations

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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.


Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table.

Explanation: These are the opening lines of the interior monologue “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” These lines show the mental doubts of the protagonist, J. Alfred Prufrock. He wants to propose to his ladylove from his romantic ideals but cannot proceed due to his realistic view.

“In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.”

Explanation: Through these lines, Prufrock has displayed modern women’s hypocrisy and ignorance of the urban society. He finds a group of women in a room. They were coming and going in the room and conversing randomly about the great Italian painter Michelangelo of the 16th Century, though they did know a small amount about him.

“For I have known them all already, known them all-

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”.

Explanation: The lines are the tale of Prufrock’s everyday experience. Through these lines, the modern poet shows the triviality and barrenness of modern men and women. Here, Prufrock has said that he has spent his life taking coffee, ironically indicating the frivolity of modern urban life.

“I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”

Explanation: These lines prove Prufrock’s escapist nature. He is a coward man of middle age. He dares neither to propose to his beloved nor to face any realities. Consequently, he desires to escape to the sea area, where he will be a marine creature and will run away with its rough claws, fearing danger.

“To say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all.”

Explanation: In this quotation, Prufrock thinks of himself as Lazarus, a soul from the world of the dead. Due to his mental doubts and cowardice, he fears proposing to his beloved physically, so he desires to be a creature of the dead world to provide information to his beloved.

“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.”

Explanation: Hamlet and Polonius are the two remarkable characters in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Hamlet is indecisive, and Polonius is an entertainer. Prufrock is doubtful but does not want to consider himself as Hamlet. Rather, he considers himself as Polonius.

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

Explanation: This extract shows Prufrock’s suspicions regarding his proposal. This cowardly man says he is sure that if he proposes to his beloved, she will refuse him.