Why is "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot a "love song"?

1 Answer

thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The reason that the title  of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot includes the words "love song" is that the situation of the poem is typical of the genre of love song. The narrator intends to propose to or proposition his beloved, but is worried about rejection:


Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

..., should say:

"That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all."


Although the basic situation is that of a classic love song, what is different is the nature of the narrator (shy, retiring, middle-aged, inarticulate) and the background of urban modernity, in which the old certainties (and old literary genres) are breaking down, leading to the problem of the failure of the lovers ton make meaning and communicate.