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Give at least one way the poem "The Long Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" seems to bring the...

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doubleohseven... | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted November 2, 2009 at 5:05 AM via web

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Give at least one way the poem "The Long Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" seems to bring the perspective close and one way the poem distances it.

T.S. Eliot alters the perspective in his poem, sometimes looking at his subject from a distance and sometimes from close at hand.

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 2, 2009 at 5:56 AM (Answer #1)

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Through his distancing himself from the subject, but then showing a close intensity to it, Prufrock reveals his intense desire to not care about this woman, but how he struggles mightily with that, because he does care, quite a bit.  It is like having a super big crush on someone, but because you are afraif of rejection, trying to brush it off as nothing huge, brush off the guy or girl as not that stellar, in order to protect yourself from potentially getting hurt.

Throughout the poem, Prufrock shows intense closeness to the woman; he reveals that he notices every little detail, and is there in mind, body and soul.  For example:

And I have known the arms already, known them

all-Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown
hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

In this description he brings the reader in as close as he is, and he notices every single, tiny detail about her. He later mentions how her eyes "pin him" on the wall with their judgment, and how he is afraid she will, after he reveals his emotions, sigh, and say that he misunderstood. All of these observations bring the reader in to his own mind and heart, revealing the intensity of his feeling and insecurity, the intensity of his love and his fear of rejection.
In other parts of the poem, however, he distances himself, in an attempt to back away from his feelings, to protect himself against rejection. He opens discussing meandering about the city, he decribes the fog, he describes old men on porches, he even goes on about Hamlet, a Shakespearian actor. All of these attempts are him backing away, bringing the reader and himself away from his feelings, and giving himself excuses for not speaking his heart to her. It's a protection mechanism, and in the end he decides that he indeed cannot talk to her. I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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