Literature: Who Is Responsible for Loneliness?

A person locked in fears is incapable of decisive action and is left with nothing. A poem by T. S. Eliot The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock opens the reader’s eyes to the consequences of the empty reasoning of a poor old man who has been unable to transcend his beliefs. This man questions whether the game is worth the candle when he is worth next to nothing. The older man’s speech is his monologue with his inner personality, which remains constrained by his fears. Eliot sees the man as a defeated clerk, pretentious and foolish, who regrets that he cannot accomplish something. The main narrative of the story is the idea of how much a man sometimes lacks a philosophical understanding of reality to overcome his fears.

Eliot’s love song is a monologue of a lonely man who is deprived of beauty and women’s attention. No one knows whether this man has ever been honored with good treatment and love, but the older man himself is convinced that time is merciless with him. Alfred Prufrock doubts that he dares to “disturb the universe”: his uncertainty shines through in the poem’s stilted torn phrases and reflective tone (Eliot, 1915, para. 6). The man is little arrogant: “For I have known them all already, known them all // Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons” (Eliot, 1915, para. 7). The musing is sincere, and the man’s fear of reality takes over. But because of his unfulfilled desires, he has become disillusioned with society and disdains it. Now Prufrock’s loneliness is an eternal friend and companion, and an inner voice constantly asks the “irresistible question”: maybe it is the old man who is not worthy of society.

The older man discusses society as endless circles of overcoming something impossible. He is thrown to “sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown,” who will not give him their song (Eliot, 1915, para. 19). Instead of fighting his fear, Prufrock chooses to withdraw and drown in “the water white and black,” ending his loneliness. He also sees himself as a white-collar man who wants to make “decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse” (Eliot, 1915, para. 6). Women come and go without lingering with him, and this is how Eliot refers back to the circles of hell Alighieri. Instead of trying to get out on top, the old man is content with flickering images in front of them, hazy with yellow smoke.

As he muses about the transience of time, Prufrock himself does not notice how time is passing. He wants only to begin to act, but he is “asleep… tired… or it malingers,” and he forgets what it takes to overcome himself (Eliot, 1915, para. 12). The old man did not dare to prophesy the future, did not look ahead, withdrawing more and more into him. Insularity has become his vice, which he cannot cope with because of his inability to look at the world critically. Toward the end of the poem, Eliot clarifies that the man realizes that loneliness has eaten him up and realizes his worthlessness to society: “almost, at times, the Fool” (Eliot, 1915, para. 15). But unfortunately, he can do nothing more, so he remains alienated and eternally sorry.

Love Song is the monologue of a lonely older man who has spent his life looking through a haze at society. Deprived of the pleasures of women, the man has become disillusioned with life, and an eternal fear of overcoming himself has shackled him. He can no longer fight, and he is deprived of that desire, so he becomes an outcast. Alfred Prufrock is a depressed man who has ceased to be worthy of society because of his fears of reality.


Eliot, T. S. (1915). The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock. (H. Monroe, Ed.). Poetry: A magazine of verse, 6(3). Web.

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