illustration of a woman holding a glass of wine and a man, Prufrock, standing opposite her

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by T. S. Eliot
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How does Prufrock "grow old" not just at the end but throughout the poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"?

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The speaker in T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" grows old throughout the poem because of his weariness with life and his hesitancy to truly live.

The speaker drifts through his life, moving from one social event to the next, measuring his existence...

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The speaker in T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" grows old throughout the poem because of his weariness with life and his hesitancy to truly live.

The speaker drifts through his life, moving from one social event to the next, measuring his existence in coffee spoons and focusing his efforts on tea and marmalade. He does not dare to step out of his routine. He is not sure if he should speak to his lady about their relationship. He is not even sure if he can dare to eat a peach. He is so insecure in himself and in his life, and this makes a person grow old quickly.

Further, the speaker is extremely self-conscious. He is concerned about the bald spot on his head and how people will talk about his hair growing thin. He is pulling his coat collar up firmly to his chin like an old man. He thinks about wearing his "white flannel trousers" rolled up and walking along the beach. In fact, he seems about ready to do that now. He is growing old, he says, then repeats the sentiment.

Yes, the speaker is indeed growing old. He is making himself old ahead of his time by his refusal to live his life to the fullest, to take charge of himself, and to reach past the world of social niceties and embrace what it really means to live.

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