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T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

The reader of this poem, and particularly the following passage, is left with a feeling of utter hopelessness. Eliotís words tumble out in an incoherent fashion that make the reader want to throw their hands in the air in despair. Which is what Eliot intends them to do.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor
And this, and so much more
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."


Eliot repeats the phrase "Would it have been worth(it, while)" three times, forcing the reader to feel the regret behind the phrase. The last two lines are full of apathetic despair, as if he is trying to say it just doesnít matter, no matter what you do you cannot make order from the fragmentation and chaos.



K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2001, 2006


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