In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," Prufrock is a character caught between desire and decision.  Elaborate with suitable references.

1 Answer | Add Yours

mrs-campbell's profile pic

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

Posted on

His desire is strong, but always overpowered by his fear of rejection, by his fear of seeming absurd in his intensity.  Throughout the poem, there are many quotes that refer to his desire, and its intensity.  He calls his question "overwhelming" for one thing, one that is so important or big that it will "disturb the universe."  He really desires to speak to her, so much that he wonders, "Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,/Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?"  Key words:  "force" and "crisis" indicate the extent of his desire; he is dramatic when describing it.  This continues with "To have squeezed the universe into a ball/To roll it toward some overwhelming question/To say: 'I am Lazarus, come from the dead,/Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all'—".  Comparing himself to a man revived from death, to squeeze the entire universe into a ball; very powerful desire.  He feels such a drive to voice himself; if he didn't, he wouldn't come back to it over and over again in the poem.

That desire is overwhelmed by his fear though.  He justifies not speaking by saying, "would it be worth it, after all"?  He answers that near the end, saying, "No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be" referring to the fact that he is no great orator or mover of destinies, but "a bit time, the Fool".  He decides to not give play to his desires in the real world; his insecurities and fear win out in the end.

We’ve answered 317,833 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question