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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by T.S. Eliot

The Ocean

Symbol Analysis

Prufrock suggests that he might be better suited to living in the deep, cold, lonely ocean than in the society of other people. We think he’s on to something. But when he ends up in the ocean through some crazy, dream-like turn events at the end of the poem, he doesn’t do very well. In fact, he drowns.

  • Lines 73-74: The "claws" are synecdoche. They stand for a crab, which is the animal you’d most likely think of as "scuttling" on the ocean floor. Prufrock is calling himself crab-like.
  • Line 123-131: The poems ends with some amazing ocean imagery, including the singing mermaids and the sea-girls wearing seaweed. In one of the poem’s most creative metaphors, the white-capped waves are compared to "white hair."

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