How does the writer bring the perspective close and distance it in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?"T.S.Eliot alters the perspective in his poem "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock," sometimes...

How does the writer bring the perspective close and distance it in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?"

T.S.Eliot alters the perspective in his poem "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock," sometimes looking at his subject from a distance and sometimes close.

Give at least one way the poem seems to bring the perspective close and one way the poem distances it.

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For the majority of the poem, T.S. Eliot speaks, as J. Alfred Prufrock, in the first person. This is indicated by the use of the first person pronouns I and me. The poem begins from this perspective - in the first stanza, the speaker begins, "Let us go then, you and I," and ends, "Let us go and make our visit." This stanza is an example of the writer using a close, first person perspective.

Immediately following this first stanza, the perspective changes to a more distant one, as if a camera zooms out, giving the reader a view of the room from which J. Alfred Prufrock speaks. The lines

"In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo,"

are written from a third person omniscient perspective, which is a change from the close first person perspective provided in the first stanza. This switch is used again two stanzas later, when the same two lines are repeated.

T.S. Eliot maintains a first person orientation for most of the rest of the poem, continuing to use the first person pronouns I and me to create a close sense of intimacy and immediacy with the speaker. In the next stanza, which begins, "And indeed there will be time," he inserts two lines, indicated by parentheses, to switch to a more distant perspective -

"(They will say: 'How his hair is growing thin!')...

(They will say: 'But how his arms and legs are thin!')"

These lines, separated by two lines spoken directly by the speaker, serve again to provide the effect of a camera zooming out momentarily, giving the reader the sense of how the speaker appears to others in his environment.

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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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