Loneliness is often a characteristic that goes unnoticed in people, and often loneliness is joined by feelings of unimportance and worthlessness. In the poem ? The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,? by T. S Elliot, Prufrock? s fears that his existence is meaningless, and will endure eternal loneliness which is portrayed by his characterization. Prufrock is concerned with becoming insignificant. At the same time he is concerned with being humiliated if he attempted to act. As a result of this anxiety he never acts and as a result is rendered paralyzed and insignificant.
Prufrock portrays the need to feel significant in order to attract or attain the opposite sex. Prufrock views himself as a lonely and easily intimidated character. He sees himself on a lower level than those around him. ?Is it perfume from a dress/ That makes me so digress?? (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T. S Elliot). When Prufrock smells the perfume from the ladies dress, he feels he is not worthy to be in a world with elegant perfumed ladies, this is why he digresses. It is this feeling of inferiority that scares Prufrock from any action, and makes him feel lonely.
Another instance when Prufrock shows himself as a lonely insignificant man is the phrase ? I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas? (Prufrock). He feels he should be separated from not only society, but from himself. He says himself that he should have been put in a place of loneliness and isolation. ?The floors of silent seas.? The farthest possible distance from humanity, where everything is silent, and Prufrock can? t be heard. With reference to the ragged claws, Prufrock feels he isn?
t deserving of being an entire being, simply the pair of insignificant claws killing time in their meaningless existence. Similarly, Prufrock? s fear of rejection by the opposite sex contributes to his feeling of isolation and loneliness. ?With a bald spot in the middle of my hair? (They will say: ? How his hair is growing thin!? ) My mourning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin– (They will say: ? But how his arms and legs are thin!? )(Prufrock)
His look is of a tired aging man. Having thinning hair and thin limbs while those around him rebuff him, make him feel self-conscious. Although he would prefer not to, Prufrock can? t help but take in the criticism of higher society which gives him a greater feeling of isolation and unworthiness. If one, settling a pillow by her head, should say: ? That is not what I meant at all. That is not it at all.? (Prufrock) Prufrock spends much of his time preparing his proposal, or entry into a woman? s life so thoroughly that he convinces himself it is not worth his effort. Prufrock? s lack of decisiveness further develops his growing anxiety toward women and society as a whole.
?And time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions… …. And indeed there will be time to wonder ? Do I dare?? and ? Do I dare?? (Prufrock) Prufrock seems to be having a debate with himself that goes nowhere and truly decides nothing. When Prufrock feels he should take action, he seems to always give himself an excuse not to, or talk himself out of it. Finally Prufrock? s fear of rejection generates his inability to pursue the opposite sex. As a result Prufrock accepts his insignificance. ?Dare I disturb the universe??
(Prufrock) He feels he no longer has a place in the world, his existence is worthless. He now feels that because he has nothing to offer the world, or society, society has nothing for him. Prufrock feels very lonely and isolated because of his acceptance that he is experiencing during his last days. ?I have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons? (Prufrock). Prufrock feels that he? s seen everything and that there is nothing to look forward to. He feels as though he is an outcast, as though everyone sees him as a meaningless being, and can? t help but feel that way.
?I shall wear flannel trousers, and walk along the beach / I have heard mermaids singing each to each? (Prufrock). He resorts to fantasies, or daydreams of paradise because he can no longer find any joy in his reality. ?I don? t think that they will sing to me? (Prufrock). This demonstrates Prufrock? s realization that he is not accepted by women. Prufrock feels so isolated and worthless that even the mermaids in his own fantasy will not sing to him, there is no hope. Prufrock is so consumed with thoughts of insignificance, that the idea of committing any forward advance toward a woman brings on extreme concern of humiliation.
Because of the void of any action in his life, Prufrock becomes much more anxious, lonely and therefore feels greatly insignificant. Prufrock can? t approach women because of his fear of humiliation. Yet he feels humiliated because he cannot approach women. Throughout T. S Elliot? s ? The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock? Prufrock? s views, thoughts, feelings, and overall character establish his fear that his existence is meaningless and that he will endure eternal loneliness. T S Eliot The Hippopotamus essay T. S. Eliot uses irony and contrasting metaphors to illustrate the secularity of the Christian Church and the spirituality of mankind.
It is a satirical look at the establishment of Christianity. The hippopotamus in the poem is a metaphor for mankind and the True Church is a metaphor for Christianity. There are several sharp ironies that emphasize the dichotomy of the professed ideals of Christianity and reality. The whole poem is ironical because it does not portray Christianity as the path to heaven. The awkward hippopotamus is celebrated by the heavenly hosts. The author illustrates these points by contrasting images of the Church with aspects of the plodding, modest hippopotamus.
These contrasts are juxtaposed in the same stanza to make the author’s point. The techniques of irony and contrasting metaphors may be found in four representative stanzas. The first stanza of the poem contrasts the hippopotamus with a Church clique. The first two lines of the first stanza describe, “The broad-backed hippopotamus. ” He is resting on,”His belly in the mud,…. ” This description gives the image of a big hippopotamus contently lying in the mud. The last two lines, “… Although he seems so firm to us He is merely flesh and blood,” contrast with the contented hippopotamus image.
The line “… Merely flesh and blood,” is an often used Christian cliche used to trivialize man’s existence on earth.. “Merely” minimizes,”… Flesh and blood. ” A portrayal of an individual made from flesh and blood might otherwise be considered a strength. The author has juxtaposed this cliche with the image of the firm, content hippopotamus. This contrast illustrates Christianity’s failure to validate mankind’s few contentment’s. The popular image of Christianity is a protector of humanity. The irony is this stanza is that the Christian cliche is u! sed to undermine humanity.
The third stanza begins with, “The hippopotamus’s steps may err In compassing material ends,…. ” The faltering hippopotamus illustrates mankind’s tendency to fumble in his attempt to make ends meet. Mankind, the hippopotamus, must work hard to survive. If at first he does not succeed, he must try again. His existence is at stake. This representation of mankind is contrasted with the image of, “… The True Church need never stir…. ” The Church has no need to support itself and therefore it does not labor. The Church is opulent and has no concern for the daily trials of mankind.
This is a depiction of a slothful Church. The irony is twofold. The Church is illustrated by a sloth which Christians call a deadly sin. Additionally, it is ironical that Christianity has so little concern for the condition mankind, when, it considers itself a protector of humanity. In the sixth stanza, all of the hippopotamus’s time is chronicled. All his waking time is required for hunting. He must hunt all night. The only time left in the, “… Day Is passed in sleep. ” The hippopotamus has no time for play. Mankind’s survival depends on his constant effort.
This image contrasts distinctly with the image of the church which “… Can sleep and feed at once…. ” Here the Christian culture is portrayed with the ultimate image of greed and sloth. It is ironical that the Church is portrayed with two vices it calls deadly sins. The final irony in this stanza is in the third line, ” God does work in a mysterious way,…. ” This satirical line aludes to the author’s true meaning in the poem. The common examples of Christianity are the worst examples of Christianity. In the final stanza, the hippopotamus is, “…
White as snow. ” This image portrays humanity’s return to all that is good and holy, mankind’s natural state. While the Christianity image contrasts with “… The True Church remains below Wrapt in the old miasmal mist. ” This is Christianity’s true state. It is ironic that the Church is described by a putrescence, disease causing mist. The choice of the word, “Wrapt,” seems to indicate that Christianity made a conscious choice between achieving it’s professed goals or maintaining it’s worldly position. This certainly is not the normal portrayal of Christianity.
Additional irony is found in the second line, “By all the martyr’d virgins kist,…. ” Christians killed the majority of these martyrs. The author has juxtaposed images to show the differences between the hippopotamus and the “True Church. ” These images constituted metaphors for mankind and Christianity. The splattering of irony assists the reader in interpreting the tone of the author’s work. The hippopotamus is an ungainly animal and the Church is associated with holiness and grace. It is ironical that the hippopotamus is welcomed by the heavenly masses while Christianity is not.