Eliot's Views of Sexuality as Revealed in the Behavior of Prufrock and
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" tells the story of a
character, a timid, middle-aged man. Prufrock is talking or thinking
The epigraph, a dramatic speech taken from Dante's "Inferno," provides
a key to
Prufrock's nature. Like Dante's character Prufrock is in "hell," in
a hell of his own feelings.
He is both the "you and I" of line one, pacing the city's grimy
on his lonely walk. He observes the foggy evening settling down on
Growing more and more hesitant he postpones the moment of his decision
telling himself "And indeed there will be time."
Prufrock is aware of his monotonous routines and is frustrated,
measured out my life with coffee spoons":. He contemplates the aimless
of his divided and solitary self. He is a lover, yet he is unable to
his love. Should a middle-aged man even think of making a proposal of
I dare/Disturb the universe?" he asks.
Prufrock knows the women in the saloons "known them all" and he
how they classify him and he feels he deserves the classification,
has put on a face other than his own. "To prepare a face to meet the
you meet." He has always done what he was socially supposed to do,
yielding to his own natural feelings. He wrestles with his desires to
his world and with his fear of their rejection. He imagines how
would feel if he were to make his proposal only to discover that the
never thought of him as a possible lover; he imagines her brisk, cruel
"That is not what I meant, at all."
He imagines that she will want his head on a platter and they
the prophet John the Baptist. He also fears the ridicule and snickers
men when she rejects him.
Prufrock imagines "And would it have been worth it, after all,"
she did not reject him it would bring him back to life and he could say
Lazarus, come from the dead."
Prufrock decides that he lacks the will to make his declaration.
not Prince Hamlet," he says; he will not, like Shakespeare's character,
to shake off his doubts and "force the moment to crisis." He feels
more like an
aging Fool. He is able only to dream of romance. He is depressed "I
and will have to "wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled" into cuffs.
He will "walk upon the beach," though he probably will not
the water. He has had a romantic vision of mermaids singing an
but assumes that they will not sing to him. Prufrock is paralyzed,
act upon his impulses and desires. He will continue to live in "the
the sea," his world of romantic daydreams, until he is awakened by the
voices" of real life in which he "drowns."
The "love song" of Mr. Prufrock displays several levels of
most important of which grows out of the vain, weak man's insights into
sterile life and his lack of will to change that life. The poem brings
images of enervation and paralysis, such as the evening described as
"etherized," immobile. No one will ever hear his love song, except
"Sweeney Among the Nightingales" tells a story of a man
lust and hunger. Eliot gives us an insight into Sweeney's true nature
him the first name of "Apeneck." Sweeney is more like a primitive man
no morals for when he dies he "guards the horned gate," the gates of
Eliot is comparing the death of a king, Agamemnon, to the death
of a bum,
Agamemnon is the leader of the Greeks besieging Troy. Upon
home he was murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra. Sweeney is murdered by
nee Rabinovitch, who I believe was engaged to Sweeney, a marriage that
arranged by her family.
Rachel, "She and the lady in the cape/ Are suspect, thought to
league"; , plotted or payed the lady in the Spanish cape to help her.
The lady in the cape meets Sweeney at a tavern and undertakes to
drunk in order to deceive him. His eyes "Are veiled, and hushed the
seas," and he begins to trust the lady in the cape. "The person in the
cape/Tries to sit on Sweeney's knees," she then tries to seduce Sweeney
successful. "The silent man in mocha brown" watches the seduction and
"The silent vertebrate in brown" is in reality Rachel in
Surely, Sweeney would not fall to the charms of the lady in the cape if
Rachel was watching. Rachel realizes what her life would be like as
wife and is appalled. She then poison's the fruit that the waiter has
The poison is starting to work for Sweeney becomes sleepy.
the man with heavy eyes/ Declines the gambit, shows fatigue." He
decides not to
gamble or play any games. "Leaves the room and reappears/Outside the
leaning in" Sweeney leans in the window and dies. "Circumscribe a
Sweeney dies with a grin of his face that reveal a mouth full of gold
Eliot becomes philosophical for the nightingales continue to
sing for a
bum and king, alike. "The nightingales are singing near/The Convent of
Sacred Heart," the exquisite music of the nightingales sounded when the
blow was struck in Ancient Greece; and they sing while Sweeney is under
of the man in mocha brown.
"And let their liquid siftings fall/ To stain the stiff
shroud.", The nightingales and nature are indifferent to a man's
station in life.
We are born into this world as equals and will leave it the same way
nightingales give no honor to anyone.
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "Sweeney Among the
Nightingales" were written by T. S. Eliot in the early 20th century.
reveal that the author feels that he is inferior to women. He does not
the love of a maiden, but is only suitable for a prostitute. The lines
refers to the prophet John the Baptist and to Lazarus tells me that he
deep interest in religion and Christianity. Religion does dictate
of sex and marriage, whereas a man must suppress all feelings of lust
unless it is directed toward his own wife.