Imagination And Unknown Future In The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock
Imagination is a powerful tool in which it has an ability to strongly influence an individual’s perception of their uncertain future. Most of the time when individuals are faced with uncertain futures seek to either embrace or reject these uncertainties through their imagination. The rejection of an uncertain future in which one has limited control over the result, only exist when one depends on imaginations created by their distrust in their capability to either guide themselves or be guided in an uncertain future. The consequences of an individual rejecting his uncertain future due to his imagination is evident in T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, in which the speaker, J. Alfred Prufrock, is afraid to act without knowing the outcomes. J. Alfred Prufrock is a middle-aged man with a timid personality. His thoughts and attitudes are degraded by his low self-esteem, indecisiveness, and his pessimistic attitude. Prufrock is indeed self-conscious and indecisive, unwilling to take any risks, out of fear of getting rejected by other people, especially by the woman he likes. This poem contemplates Prufrock’s unsuccessful attempts to win over the woman he likes and to be able to fit in with society. Prufrock develops feelings of isolation and loneliness due to his self-doubting nature. This poem exemplifies how imagination largely influence one’s perspective of their uncertain future.
J. Alfred Prufrock lacks self-esteem and perhaps does not like himself. He dwells on his insecurities when trying to find his place and purpose in life. T.S. Eliot’s poem utilizes repetition, including,“Do I dare?”, emphasizing his lack of self-esteem. He constantly changes his mind about whether to confess his love or not, and is held back by his negative thoughts giving him with constant doubts like “how his hair is growing thin”, and “how his arms and legs are thin”. The repetition of the word “thin” could possibly symbolize the way that he feels that he is not good enough for the woman he likes. Prufrock continually worries that he will make a fool of himself and that other people will judge him for his bald spot, his clothes, and his overall physical appearance. He is obsessed with his own inadequacy and lack of confidence. This proves that the longer Prufrock pushes off facing his issues, the stronger his self-doubt becomes. Prufrock’s worries are about his overall physical appearance, illustrating how his mind is holding him back from doing what he wants. He is afraid to act without knowing the result, which is why there is no progress for him. This poem is based on Prufrock’s inability to act and progress into the world clearly because Prufrock doubts he will be successful in life, resulting him ending up unhappy. This is demonstrated through the isolation he experiences, the comparison Prufrock makes of himself to other men, and his inability to act over his journey in life. Due to his negative imagination, he is unwilling to embrace new courses of action where uncertainty lies ahead.
Prufrock is an indecisive man, he does not have the ability to make decision quickly and effectively. T.S. Eliot shows Prufrock’s inability to act, as well as his fear of society and people’s judgements. His indecisive nature is one of the root causes of his standstill life. Throughout the poem, the speaker is met with many chances to change his life, yet he chooses not to act upon them. Prufrock’s indecisiveness revolves around even the smallest of concerns, “And time yet for a hundred indecisions/ And for a hundred visions and revisions/ Before the taking of a toast and tea.”. In the beginning of the poem, Prufrock mentions this “overwhelming question” that he would like to ask. He resists making decision for fear that its results will turn out wrong, and not the way he wanted. He believes that “ time” is always available for things like meeting new people and falling in love, so he does not have to rush things and wants to take time deciding. The poet says that he still has time to be indecisive, time for a hundred visions and revisions “before the taking of a toast and tea” with the woman he likes to be in a relationship with. Prufrock struggles in revealing his feelings to a woman he likes because he feared rejection, and constantly tells himself that “there will be time.” He constantly obsesses about the question, always asking himself, “Do I dare?” as if he would disturb the universe, which also reveals that he does not have the courage to confess. He continue to obsess about what will happen if he were to ask his “overwhelming question”, leading him not to ask at all. This question would be the answer to most of Prufrock’s problems. The poem suggests that the question he would like to ask is to be directed to a woman. This would mean that Prufrock would like to ask a woman to be his lover, which in turn would definitely solve his loneliness issue. It is clear that he does not embrace his uncertain future since he resists making decision for fear that its results will turn out not the way he wanted it. Prufrock imagines that he would just get rejected so he does not progress in life.
J. Alfred Prufrock is pessimist as he only sees the negative side of everything and believe that the worst thing will always happen. Prufrock’s perspective throughout the poem is constantly negative. Prufrock focuses upon only the negative aspects of his life, things like physical appearance, loneliness, and being a coward. He never mentions anything positive about himself. The theme of pessimism is clearly seen in this poem whenever he makes decisions. For instance, “Do I dare Disturb the universe?”. With this, it is evident that he thinks that he is not worthy of disturbing them. He talks about whether to ask his “overwhelming question” to the woman he likes, but in the end Prufrock decides not to, due to his fear of getting rejected by her and made fun of by other women. This proves that Prufrock imagines the worst case scenario every time, so he rejects his uncertain future.
T.S. Eliot developed the ideas in the poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, that an individual’s imagination affects their willingness to embrace or reject an uncertain future. In this particular poem by T.S. Eliot, the speaker, Prufrock, lets his imagination control his decision whether to embrace or reject his uncertain future. Prufrock is a middle-aged man who lacks self-esteem, an indecisive man, and a pessimist, with these characteristics, he rejects his uncertain future out of fear of rejection. The rejection of an uncertain future or the future in which one has limited control over the result, is presented by J. Alfred Prufrock when he depended on illusions created by his distrust in his capability to either guide himself or be guided in his uncertain future.
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