What is the summary of "The Love Song Of J. Alfred Profrock" by T. S. Eliot?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The poem begins with an invitation from Prufrock to a person who is referred to as "you" and remains anonymous. Prufrock takes this person into the unsavoury areas of London, with various sexual connotations included by reference to "one night" establishments and the aphrodisiac of oysters. As Prufrock continues his walk, he pictures his destination: a woman in a sitting room with a tea set. It is clear that he is heading to this woman, and as he continues he is thinking of whether he is able to ask her to marry him. The poem traces his various doubts and issues with this question as he considers himself, marriage, and society as a whole to explore why he feels so indecisive about what he is planning on doing. As the poem continues he fluctuates between doubt and desire, and casts himself as various heroic figures as he thinks about what he is going to do, with references made to Hamlet and Lazarus, to give just a few. This poem is a masterly modernist work, giving insight to the doubt, despair and disillusionment of the time by giving us an insight into the mind of Prufrock, who never actually arrives at his destination and thus therefore is suspended in his state of inaction.

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