Question: Eliot’s modern poems express his response to a world that has lost important values and ideals. Do you agree with this statement? Discuss your response to the Love Song of J. Alfred and one other poem.
In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “Preludes” T.S. Elliot expresses his views and thoughts on the modern world. He explores themes such as the shallowness and superficiality of the modern lifestyle, alienation and isolation. Elliot was a modernist writer who aimed to capture the rapid transformation of the world due to technological advances which he perceived as fractured and alienated. His use of literary techniques such as imagery, ambiguity and repetition to depict the lonely, mechanical way which he believes the modern world function in.
In the “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” Elliot explores the life of a middle aged man, Prufrock, who’s life is boring, routine and uneventful. He has obsessive and compulsive traits which lead to him being hugely isolated and alienated. Prufrock lives in a world where the development of new inventions and technologies has made society mechanical an fake and left people in a fragile psychological state. His ‘damaged psyche’ prevents him from social interaction as he is afraid of rejection and scorn. He leads a frustrating life filled with meaningless and uninspiring events. Through Prufrock, Elliot communicated the loss of tradition an culture and the loneliness and alienation brought on by the emphasis of individuality in the modern world.
Preludes follows similar ideas of solitary and depersonalisation through the use of techniques such as fragmentation. Quotes such as “a lonely cab horse” represent the unhealthy amounts of isolation brought on by the modern world. He also focuses on creating the grim atmosphere of the dreary atmosphere and grimy streets of the city. There is a repetition of time as the poem progresses and moves from morning to night. The way the poem moves through the day without hinting that there is any more important event or point may represent the mechanical, meaningless way human life has become.
In both “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “Preludes” Elliot displays his modernist ideals by depicting the world as superficial, bleak and lacking in cultural depth and fulfilment.