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

Start Free Trial

What character in Hamlet fits Prufock's description as "an attendant lord," and what is the significance of Prufrock's admission that he "almost, at times" resembles a fool? T. S. Eliot "The love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and Shakespeare Hamlet. In T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," lines 111-119, Prufrock rejects a comparison between himself and Hamlet. Instead he likens himself to "an attendant lord."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The character in Hamlet who best fits the description Prufrock gives of himself in T. S. Eliot's poem is Polonius. It is hard to see how it could be any other character. Polonius is:

"an easy tool . . . Deferential, glad to be of use. Politic, cautious, and meticulous. Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse. At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--Almost, at times, the Fool."

Polonius is certainly full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse. In one passage Gertrude has to interrupt him and say, "More matter and less art." Hamlet often makes fun of the old man, who doesn't understand that Hamlet is doing it, as when Hamlet asks, "Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?"

Polonius is certainly politic and cautious, too. And he qualifies as "an attendant lord." He does not "advise the prince" but would be more than happy to give him advice if allowed to do so. Advice is his stock in trade. He advises the King, the Queen, his son Laertes, and his daughter Ophelia. He also offers a lot of advice to the man he is sending to France to make inquiries about his son's behavior at college.

The only other character who is full of high sentence and almost at times a fool is Osric; but he does not fit other parts of Prufrock's description. He is meticulous but not politic or cautious, and he is too minor a character to fit the comparison.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team