How is the stream of consciousness exemplified in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"?
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Stream of consciousness narrative is characterised by a point of view which goes beyond a simple account from one character's perspective and attempts to capture their internal thought processes, particularly the free associations and strange links they make between topics. The poem captures this narrative style by focusing on the thoughts and feelings of the persona, who is of course named in the title. He is walking to meet a woman for tea and is contemplating the question he is going to ask her, which we can infer is a proposal of marriage. However, there is no arrival or meeting in this poem. Instead, it consists of the internal and rather chaotic thought process of J. Alfred Prufrock. As he walks along, he casts himself in the role of various characters, including Lazarus and Hamlet, to name a few:
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from teh dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"--
As we follow his thoughts, we realise that he is debating the question he is to ask the woman he is to meet and contemplating his future life depending on the answer that he receives. It is this access that is given to the internal thought processes that make this poem such an excellent example of the stream of consciousness narrative.
Given that the main character of the poem is having a dramatic monologue in which he is analyzing himself and the situation that he is in, such monologue becomes the stream of consciousness in the poem.
A stream of consciousness is a narrative technique characterized by the narrator's conversation with himself, not necessarily in an organized manner, as it is a "flow of thought and emotion" that runs throughout the literary piece. In drama it is known as a soliloquy, but in poetry and prose it would be called stream of consciousness such as in the story the Jilting of Granny Weatherall.
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