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.

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lfawley's profile pic

lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

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

overwhelming question

together:

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.

 

 

 

usmcwife44's profile pic

usmcwife44 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Some of the facts in the essay above are incorrect, so you might want to double check. Other than a few errors, this is a solid essay.

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