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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In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," how does the human body impact human nature?

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The concerns of Prufrock concerning his appearance present the way in which Eliot captures the concerns, fears and worries of the protagonist in this poem. Prufrock is a man who spends endless hours worrying about what he is doing, whether it is the right thing or not, and how he is perceived by others. This is indicated in the way he imagines others talking about his balding and his physical stature as he assures himself that there will be "time" for endless "decisions and revisions":

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair--

(They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin--

(They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")

It is Prufrock's fear and doubt about his own aging that is driving him to make this journey and to commit to one course of action, even though at the same time he wants to do everything he can to not commit himself to one particular course of action. The physical body, and the way that it is so clearly failing Prufrock in his own estimation, has as impact on his human nature in the way that he is having to accept that, in spite of his repetitions to the contrary, there will not be "time" for endless "visions and revisions," and he will have to "dare" to "disturb the universe" with his actions. The human body is therefore presented as being a tangible sign of the aging process and that time is not on Prufrock's side, which therefore inspires him to contemplate action. The poem leaves it open, however, as to whether he actually does anything or not.

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