The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Questions and Answers
by T. S. Eliot

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In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," how do literary allusions help explain Prufrock’s problem to the reader?

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By alluding to other texts and stories, Eliot is able to bring in the entire theme, mood, feeling and plot of those other stories, with just one word or phrase.  It is almost like providing an internet link right in the middle of a story; you "click" on it, and it brings you to an entire other page of information and applications.  The "links" in this poem are several, and add a lot of dimension to Prufrock's plight.

One of the allusions is to Hamlet. He has spent the entire poem wondering if he should "disturb the universe" by asking "some overwhelming question" to a woman; he goes back and forth, being wishy-washy and fearful.  He wonders if it "would have been worth it, after all," to have...

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