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What does "women come and go "talking of Michangelo" mean in T. S. Eliot's "The Love...

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plato1234 | Student

Posted September 18, 2013 at 1:58 AM via web

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What does "women come and go "talking of Michangelo" mean in T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 18, 2013 at 2:14 AM (Answer #1)

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Lines 13 and 14 of T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" are as follows: "in the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo." The opening of the poem is quite negative, speaking of "etherized" patients on tables, "half-deserted streets," and "tedious arguments." 

The line in question is no different. The speaker, openly angry with life, passes on his anger to the reader because he finds that women spend time speaking superficially about Michelangelo (or art). Given that Michelangelo is a renowned artist, it is very easy to sound knowledgeable about art. Yet, his work does not exist as the epitome of the whole period. Therefore, the conversation about the artist illustrates the superficial nature of the women (and perhaps women as a whole).  The knowledge of the women is limited, and the narrator is rightly upset by their superficiality. 

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