T.S. Eliot shifts the reader from a distant perspective to a more intimate closeness to the subject. Give an example of how the poem keeps the reader at a distance and an example of how the poem...
T.S. Eliot shifts the reader from a distant perspective to a more intimate closeness to the subject. Give an example of how the poem keeps the reader at a distance and an example of how the poem brings the reader closer to the subject of the poem.
From the outset, Eliot brings the reader up close to Prufrock by inviting him or her to go along with the poem's narrator on a private and personal journey. The speaker states:
Let us go then, you and I
in the opening line. This indicates to us that we are traveling alongside Prufrock on his journey. Together, speaker and reader will traverse the streets, avoiding the
let us go and make our visit
However, in the next stanza, we are removed and see the scene from a distance:
The yellow for that rubs its back upon the window panes,
The yellow smoke that runs its muzzle on the windowpanes
Consistently, we are taken close to the narrator as he tells us all about his many attempts to be a part of the world (and to connect with the women there), and his equally many failures. We are let in on his deepest secrets and fears of growing old having done nothing:
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair
But how his legs and arms are thin
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons
Over and over, we bear witness to his insecurities, then are pulled back again to see the scene as he sees it:
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo
The significance of this is that Eliot was writing during the Modernist period just after WW2. People, as a whole, were cursed with an inability to act, surrounded by a world and a culture that was fractured and torn apart. Prufrock is symbolic of the time, and our connection with him draws us in as our ability to view him from a distance helps us to put things in perspective.