The Disaster Which is Prufrock

How a lack of self esteem can be destructive

Who is J. Alfred Prufrock?

J. Alfred Prufrock is a self-pitying man with no confidence or self esteem. Like all of us, Prufrock questions himself and is afraid of his decisions in life, but his utter lack of self esteem forces him to take it further than the rest. He doesn’t allow himself to take action and be assertive enough to change his passive ways. Prufrock’s lack of value and fixation on failure is preventing him from living for the present.

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How Prufrock Is Self Destructive


Prufrock is a young man with little to no self esteem. He's passive and afraid of living, therefore, he refuses to take any action. His lack of confidence and awkwardness leads him to constantly talk himself out of situations. Prufrock feels like society is always judging him which forces him to feel as if he doesn't fit in with humanity. At one point in the poem, Prufrock compares himself to Polonius when he says "I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; AM an attendant lord" (111-112). He later calls himself "almost ridiculous- Almost, at times, the Fool" (117-118).


Prufrock is a young man who is obsessed with his appearance, or according to him, lack there of. He is aging himself by focusing on the future and how he will grow old. He often talks about how women will say "How his hair is growing thin!" (40) and "how his arms and legs are thin!" (44). Prufrock lives his life feeling as if he is undesirable and unattractive, so much so that he doesn't even think that the mermaids will sing to him.


Throughout the text, it is clear to see Prufrock's depression. He feels like he doesn't fit in with the rest of society and that his existence isn't valued. His hatred for himself is so deep that he believes every one else must hate him too. Prufrock has no friends and feels as if he in unloved and unwanted by all. Prufrock compares himself to Polonius when he says "I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord" (111-112). In doing this, he is saying that he beats around the bush and avoids taking action.

How Society Can Relate to Prufrock

Prufrock's lack of self-esteem causes him to be very conscience of his body and appearance. He is consistently caught degrading himself and furthering his low self-esteem by ripping himself apart. These factors also lead to Prufrock's deep sadness and depression. His low self-esteem, consciousness of his appearance, and his depression, are the root's of his self destruction. Prufrock is stuck on this downward spiral, constantly making it all worse. Prufrock is not alone when it comes to his low self-esteem and problems with his appearance. The women that he torments himself over also have imperfections that they believe undesirable. In a way, society can relate to Prufrock's exagerated opinions. We like to believe that Prufrock is pathetic, but we've all been in similar situations, and the video below can demonstrate this.
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