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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by T.S. Eliot

Appearances Theme

There seem to be no complete human beings in this poem. There are only bits and pieces of people: an arm here, some eyes there, maybe a couple of voices in the next room. The person whose appearance we know most about is Prufrock, and we kind of wish we hadn't learned about his bald spot or his bony arms and legs. The lack of bodies is one of the signs that might make us think the poem is set in Hell.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Why is so much attention paid to clothing in the poem?
  2. Why does Prufrock get so excited by the arm with "light brown hair" that he sees under the lamplight?
  3. What do we know about the appearance’s of the woman Prufrock loves? Do you think the same woman is being described over and over?
  4. Why are there descriptions of "mermaids" and "sea-girls" at the end of the poem?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although Prufrock mistrusts doctors and scientists, he acts like one when he "dissects" people in his perception.

Prufrock is more like a strange sea-creature than a man.

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