What is the relationship between the narrator of T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and William Shakespeare's character Hamlet?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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T. S. Eliot is not trying to make a comparison between the narrator of his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and some specific attendant in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, but rather saying that Prufrock is insignificant. The first layer of comparison is that both Hamlet and Prufrock are indecisive. But Hamlet is a Prince of Denmark and is making extremely important decisions about whether to kill a king, decisions that affect the entire kingdom. Prufrock is trying to decide whether to make a pass at a woman and what to wear (whether he should wear trousers with cuffs or not, how he should part his hair) – all trivial things. Finally, he’s not a famous or important person like Hamlet, but more like one of those anonymous characters in Shakespeare who serve to open a scene and then be forgotten.

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