Modernism and Prufrock Essay

469 WordsFeb 3, 20142 Pages
Modernism refers to a cultural movement, broadly in the years 1880 to 1930, marked by a sudden reforming of traditional art, literature, music, architecture and ideologies. Modernist literature was characterised by experimentation, especially in the manipulation of structure as well as internal reality and reflection, spurred by the rapid industrialisation of 20th century society. T.S Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, commonly known as ‘Prufrock’, illustrates these Modernist ideas through the themes of inadequacy and pessimism. The theme of inadequacy in Prufrock permeates through the Modernist concern of lack of communication, capturing the unheroic nature of the 20th century. The protagonist continually experiences malaise of his general appearance and impotence, revealing his insecure nature through the monologue, questioning to himself, “Do I dare?” and “How should I presume?”. His feelings of inadequacy lead him to retreat into a stream of consciousness, unnerved by silent comments of superficiality. For instance, the lines “With a bald spot in my hair/They will say: “How is hair is growing thin!” emphasise the persona’s priority for acceptance in society. Defeatist attitudes which arose during the Modernist era is also evident through the depiction of inadequacy in Prufrock. The repetition of the refrain “In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo” induces feelings of insignificance of the protagonist as he is compared to the great Michelangelo. This allusion is closely tied to the context where the emancipation of women in the Modern era is seemingly portrayed with an aura of intelligence and affluence, further illustrating Prufrock’s disillusionment and inadequacy in a society with such high expectations. Moreover, pessimism is a prominent feature of Prufrock exemplified by Modernist, existential beliefs. Such unpromising

More about Modernism and Prufrock Essay

Open Document