How is the epigraph at the beginning of T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" relevant to the meaning of the poem? Try in particular to address such matters as secrecy, duality, emotion, and Prufrock's inferiority complex.

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The epigraph at the beginning of T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is relevant to the rest of the poem in various ways, including the following:

  • The epigraph comes from Dante’s Inferno, thus suggesting that the ensuing poem will depict a kind of dark, hellish experience.
  • If we assume that the epigraph is by Prufrock himself (the speaker of the poem), then the epigraph implies Prufrock’s learning, his depressed state of mind, and his tendency to describe his own situation in somewhat hyperbolic terms.
  • If we assume that the epigraph is not by Prufrock but is Eliot’s comment on Prufrock, then the epigraph, if nothing else, adds to the dark tone of the poem and suggests that the poem has some relevance beyond Prufrock’s own limited situation. In any case, the epigraph is typical of Eliot’s tendency to examine modern experiences by comparing and contrasting them to experiences of the past as reported in classic literature. This epigraph is the sort of...

(The entire section contains 560 words.)

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