The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
by T.S. Eliot
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Passivity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? (lines 75-80)
Here he’s just lazing around, like a kid on summer holiday, eating sweet foods and trying not to "wake up" the afternoon/evening, which is being personified as a sleeping person. It’s hard to tell whether the evening is really tired, though, or if it’s just "malingering," or faking it to get out of doing something important. Kind of like Mr. Lazy Bones over there with his "tea and cakes." He’s like the kid who promises to do the dishes after dinner and then after dinner complains, "But I’m too tiiiired!" He doesn’t have the "strength" to do anything that make cause a stir.
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous –
Almost, at times, the Fool. (lines 111-119)
In literature, Hamlet is a classic example of a passive character. He spends all his time thinking about whether to murder his uncle, and he never gets around to doing anything about it. But Prufrock is even worse than Hamlet. He’s more like an "attendant lord" who serves a king. Everybody is nice to him, but nobody respects him because he doesn’t want to cause trouble for anyone, including himself. In other words, Prufrock is saying that he’s not even the main character in his own story.