1. How is description – especially of the cityscapes — used in the poem? What is their purpose/effect? 2. What do the various kinds of repetition — especially of images and phrases —...
1. How is description – especially of the cityscapes — used in the poem? What is their purpose/effect?
2. What do the various kinds of repetition — especially of images and phrases — suggest about the nature of Prufrock's mind or psychology?
The use of repetition is a not uncommon poetic device. But in the case of this poem, in which the narrator is engaged in a process of reminiscence which provokes nostalgia, the use of repetition is something that enhances and emphasizes his emotional state. Perhaps this is most obvious in one of the poem's central keystones:
I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
Prufrock is lamenting his lost youth, and the images that repeat again and again are nearly pastoral in nature. The narrator relives moments of natural beauty and escape in which he felt at one with the beauty and vigor of the natural world.
The narrator's repetitive descriptions of various places and things also echo this sense of melancholy. He seems dejected to note that sophisticated urban people in the cities are discussing matters that feel foreign or unknowable to him, or perhaps that leave him feeling rejected by women (another frequent theme of this poem), for example: "In the rooms the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo."