Stream-of-consciousness was a style of writing that matured in the early twentieth century to counteract what writers like Virginia Woolf or T.S. Eliot believed was too much emphasis on external detail in Victorian and Edwardian literature.
"Prufrock" is told entirely through the thoughts of its main character, Prufrock, as he crosses London to attend a party and then becomes a self-conscious, unhappy guest at the party. When he describes London as like a patient on a table, he is projecting onto it his own gloomy, paralyzed state of mind as he travels through the city. The lines that reveal this bit of stream-of-consciousness are as follows:
When the evening spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table
At the party, we are inside his head as he worries about his bald spot or the impression he will make on other people. It is his own sense of futility, timidity, and triviality that he conveys as he thinks, unhappily, that he has measured out his life in coffee...
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