Prufrock's real question.The information (study guide) here will lead you to believe that Prufrock really wanted to propose. I think this is a simple and two dementional way to look at this poem....

Prufrock's real question.

The information (study guide) here will lead you to believe that Prufrock really wanted to propose. I think this is a simple and two dementional way to look at this poem. To me, Prufrock is a self-obsessed, sex-crazed, nuerotic, with severe depression because he's been with plenty of women, and with his boredom with copulation (and inevitable death) begs his "overwhelming question"...If modern life is meaningless, and I've passed my prime - should I just kill myself?

I'm just sayin.

Asked on by berad2

8 Answers | Add Yours

copelmat's profile pic

copelmat | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

I agree with theten above and the importance of the repetition of "That is not what I meant at all." I would also point toward the allusion to Hamlet. Hamlet's "overwhelming question"--of course-- was "to be or not to be." It seems likely that Prufrock's question is something similar, perhaps "what does all of this really mean?" or "is all of this really worth it?"

MaudlinStreet's profile pic

MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

I don't think it's an over-abundance of casual relationships that have triggered Prufrock's malaise, however. I think rather it's an inability to connect with anyone, male or female, on a deeper level. Also, I think there's more in the poem that suggests Prufrock's constant rejection by women, leading to his frustration. Consider the repetition of "That is not what I meant at all" in response to his attempts at communication. Or the fact that he feels exposed, like a bug pinned to the wall.

I agree that he finds this pursuit repetitive, boring, and ultimately unfullfilling, but I think it's more a lack of connection, rather than too much.

lnorton's profile pic

lnorton | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

His real question (at least in my opinion) is, "How much time to I have?" His fear of old age, his assurances to himself ("there will be time"), his waffling in regards to the proposal, his unclear view of himself, his fear, his alienation -- all of this has to do with time.

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

You have made some legitimate points in your interpretation. Sometimes readers take the easiest strategy (two dimensional) way and stop there. It's always important to recognize that there are multiple right ways to interpret literature.

berad2's profile pic

berad2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Well said, I could see it being that way as well. I think he feels exposed during the acts (sex) that leave him feeling empty. However, I have to say I could relate to either one of our perceptions. I have had times of drought and flood in reguards to companionship. Reguardless, in the end of my quest, whether, successfull or not, when she had left I still felt unsatisfied.

berad2's profile pic

berad2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I have to respectfully disagree with you-Inorton, because that (to me) is far too nuetral and common of a question for the overall feel of this work. While, there does seem to be a morose and/or apethetic feel and meter to the poem there still seems be strong emotional attachment to the words Prufrock is speaking. The reapeted lines "In the room women come and go Talking of Michealangelo" to me is another way of telling us many women have been in his room all talking about the same things. None of them are unique or extraordinary to him. There are all just different shades of gray to him. And these lines are reapeated; which indicates the repititousness Prufrock has experienced with dating which reinforces the idea that this (dating/copulation) is pointless and boring. And thus the modern, city dwelling single male's life of just working during the week and trying to find a mate on the weekend is monotonus, boring, and pointless. Then it's dread. This is all for not. What are we doing with ourselves (humanity)? Well then, I should just off myself.

berad2's profile pic

berad2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I have to respectfully disagree with you-Inorton, because that (to me) is far too nuetral and common of a question for the overall feel of this work. While, there does seem to be a morose and/or apethetic feel and meter to the poem there still seems be strong emotional attachment to the words Prufrock is speaking. The reapeted lines "In the room women come and go Talking of Michealangelo" to me is another way of telling us many women have been in his room all talking about the same things. None of them are unique or extraordinary to him. There are all just different shades of gray to him. And these lines are repeated; which indicates the repititousness Prufrock has experienced with dating which reinforces the idea that this (dating/copulation) is pointless and boring. And thus the modern, city dwelling single male's life of just working during the week and trying to find a mate on the weekend is monotonus, boring, and pointless. Then it's dread. This is all for not. What are we doing with ourselves (humanity)? Well then, I should just off myself.

berad2's profile pic

berad2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I have to respectfully disagree with you-Inorton, because that (to me) is far too nuetral and common of a question for the overall feel of this work. While, there does seem to be a morose and/or apethetic feel and meter to the poem there still seems be strong emotional attachment to the words Prufrock is speaking. The reapeted lines "In the room women come and go Talking of Michealangelo" to me is another way of telling us many women have been in his room all talking about the same things. None of them are unique or extraordinary to him. There are all just different shades of gray to him. And these lines are reapeated; which indicates the repititousness Prufrock has experienced with dating which reinforces the idea that this (dating/copulation) is pointless and boring. And thus the modern, city dwelling single male's life of just working during the week and trying to find a mate on the weekend is monotonus, boring, and pointless. Then it's dread. This is all for not. What are we doing with ourselves (humanity)? Well then, I should just off myself.

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