The "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" uses dramatic monologue. How does this technique reveal Prufrock's character?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dramatic monologue is a form of characterization since Prufrock is acting and speaking...through what he says and does, he draws us into his world.  We make assumptions about him by direct words and actions, but one can learn just as much from a person by what they DON'T say or do.Prufrock uses the pronouns "I" and "our" to show he is involved, but he also uses the collective "you" to refer to both himself and the reader...we are intantly involved and connected to this man who is hoping to find love.Immediately there is an invitation to draw us in:

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

From this we know he is isolated and lonely--"half-deserted streets" and "restless nights in one-night cheap hotels" gives this away.  The argument is also tedious...he is tired.

To wonder,
"Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?" 

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!"]

He is indecisive and vain.  Do I dare disturb the universe? Do I dare go in with my bald spot shining and brave derision? Keep looking for hints that tell you more about how he thinks/feels.

Read the study guide:
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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