The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Gender Performance

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“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was a remarkable piece of poetry written by T.S. Elliot that had an amazing sense of imagery and romanticism that is unparalleled to most of it’s time. Even though the lyrical style brought much to the table the actual textual meanings behind it can be questionable. Comparing the poem to some critique articles you will see where things can be a little more analytically confusing.

In the article Textual Frustration, by Brian Clifton, Prufrock’s masculinity is analyzed and discussed. The poem analyzes a failed masculine performance of a much larger crisis. The article states that Prufrock has an “increased anxiety of not performing his idealized form of masculinity” (Page 65). Prufrock tried to talk with women but they would criticize his physical appearance and would put down his masculinity. It sates here in the poem that they would tell him “How is hair is growing thin” “But how his arms and legs are thin.” (Line 41 and 44) giving him the lack of confidence that he needs for himself. I feel like Prufrock struggled with showing his emotions because it wasn’t up to standard of the masculine persona that needed to be portrayed to others and he would talk himself out of things because of his anxiety. Towards the end of the poem Prufrock states “No, I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be.” (Line 111) I believe Prufrock knew that he would be a second choice to others because of his “lack” of masculinity and he would accept it in the future to be alone the rest of his life.

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In the next article it talks about the question that Prufrock wants to ask but nobody knows what the question even is. The article talks about how many different authors and professors believe that the question could be meant to propose to a woman or a question of his death. In the end it can go many different ways of what the question could be for. In the poem, “Prufrock goes to a tea party to see a woman to whom he might propose to or to ask a proposition from her.” (Vol 31 Iss. 3) Another question would be “a sense of advocacy of suicide, and the manner of his own death.” (Vol 31 Iss. 3) It states in the article that we were “given the gift of life and we are given the option to reject the gift.” (Vol 31 Iss. 3) In the end of the article no one knows what the question really portrays but states that the question could be meant for anything and how Prufrock felt at that time.

In the last article it talks about the psychological point of view of the yellow fog clause of the poem. It states in the article that the fog has a positive essence and has a connection with the entirety of the poem. Prufrock subconsciously collaborates the fog behavior with Prufrock desires either it being of love or of something else. I believe the the fog illustrates a clear result of Prufrocks feelings towards a woman; it states in the poem that the fog is like a yellow tom-cat who illustrates an emotional love who “rubs its back and muzzle.” (Line 15 & 16) In the beginning of the poem Prufrock is believed to have a happy love and towards the end of the poem to be a good love of understanding Prufrocks disturbed past which would follow him to the end.       




Clifton, Brian. “Textual Frustration: The Sonnet and Gender Performance in ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.’” Journal of Modern Literature, no. 1, 2018, p. 65. EBSCOhost,

2. Hindus, Milton. “On the Question of Prufrock.” Modern Age, vol. 43, no. 3, Summer 2001, p. 279. EBSCOhost, direct=true&db=f5h&AN=5447768&site=eds-live.

3. John Hakac. “The Yellow Fog of ‘Prufrock.’” The Bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, vol. 26, no. 2, 1972, p. 52. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/1346502.

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