Why did T. S. Eliot write the poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"?

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

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Eliot wrote this poem to communicate the intense feeling of alienation and of running out of time experienced by so many people in the time of Modernism. Eliot presents the reader with a man who is obsessed about the passing of time and how time is literally running out for him. He is a man who is shown to want to avoid commitment of any sort or limiting himself, but at the same time he is aware that he is being forced into making choices everyday that limit his freedom. Note the way that this is focused on in the following quote:

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

The repetition of the phrase "there will be time" shows how important a concept time is in this poem. Not only does the concept of time reinforce the way in which a plethora of options gradually become less and less of a reality for humans as they grow old, it also parallels the concerns that J. Alfred Prufrock has about his appearance and his fear of being ridiculed for his "bald spot in the middle" of his hair and the thinness of his limbs. T. S. Eliot therefore wrote this poem partly in order to communicate the impact of aging on a Modern man such as J. Alfred Prufrock and to capture the frailty of the human condition.

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