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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Is Prufrock genuinely in love in T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?

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J. Alfred Prufrock is not in love with a person in the poem. In fact, the speaker seems quite alone.

One of the hallmarks of Prufrock is that he's not really sure of anything. He wanders around looking for something solid to anchor himself with but is unable to completely do so. Still, he's wandering through the world around him; he keeps moving as he looks for—and doesn't find—connection and meaning.

There is no mention of a specific love interest in the poem. He mentions "you" when he talks about going together, but who that "you" is isn't clear. It could be a love interest, the reader, or a friend, for example. Despite that, Prufrock seems isolated and separate from everyone in the poem. He doesn't speak to anyone. He's too scared to make choices.

There's simply no indication that Prufrock is in love.

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In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot, the narrator of the poem is unreliable in an odd way. He is not untrustworthy in the sense of being imperceptive or deceitful or insane; he perceives the world around him clearly and struggles to find truth in it, but he has a major character flaw of indecisiveness. This appears not only with respect to his actions, but also his judgments and interpretations of his perceptions. In other words, although he has certain feelings about the woman, as well as trying to decide whether to reveal his feelings to her, he also has difficulty trying to assess the precise nature of his own emotions. Prufrock himself is not entirely sure whether this is momentary lust, romantic love, or just loneliness and desire for companionship, and thus part of his ambivalence about expressing his feelings is his own uncertainty as to the nature of the feelings. So even Prufrock himself does not really know if he is genuinely in love or not.

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