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

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What are the physical and emotional qualities in the speaker of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"?

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T.S. Eliot begins to describe the speaker in line 40 when the speaker notes that he has "a bald spot in the middle of [his] hair" (which the speaker again notes in line 82). The women at the party also note, "How his hair is growing thin!" (l. 41), giving credence to the fact that J. Alfred Prufrock is a middle-aged man.  

But really, the poem is more about Prufrock's emotional state.  Written as an internal monologue in a stream of consciousness format, Profrock doubts throughout the poem his ability to be loved by a woman.  He often questions himself, "'Do I dare?' and, 'Do I dare?'" (l. 38) in terms of walking up to a woman to ask her out.  He assures himself at the beginning of the poem that "there will be time," repeating this phrase five separate times.  However, as the monologue comes to a close, he realizes that time will eventually run out, he will grow old, and the mermaids will not sing to him (l. 125), a realization that his fantasies will not come true.  

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