The Many Woes Of Mr. Prufrock
“If I believed that my response was heard / by anyone returning to the world, / this flame would stand and never stir again, / But since no man has ever come alive / out of this gulf of Hell, if I hear true,/ I’ll answer, with no fear of infamy.” We begin with an excerpt from Dante's divine comedy, to set the mentality of J. Prufrock, who relates in confidence a tale of his life which says a lot about the man- and gives us a window into the strange mind of our writer and the many worries that assail him.
The Self Opinion of Mr. J. Alfred Prufrock
In the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the main character Prufrock advertises his very unfavourable opinion of himself in many different ways. Though he speaks of attending a party, he does not seem very interested in talking or appearing- he consistently talks of all the time he will have later on. Time to communicate and socialize, to ask his questions and live life fully, which is obviously a thin excuse for his shyness and introverted attitude. He seems to worry incessantly about what those at the gathering think of him, saying how they will talk about his bald spot and thinning hair, when many will not even notice or care. Even just in casual thought he relates things to his looks, such as when he remarks "Though i have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter," seemingly more concerned about his thinning hair than the fact that the head its connected to no longer is attached to his body. Also, though he says he arrives very well dressed and ready, he believes no one will notice the good things about him, just more about how thin and old he looks. He later mentions the concept of mermaids or sirens, who sing so beautifully as to lure people to their deaths in the sea, but he says that they would not sing to him at all, as if he isn't important or worthwhile- not even good enough for death.
Also, he talks about his relationship to society. He suggests that by any action he does he may disturb the entire universe, or disrupt everyone so badly that he will be blamed and reviled, which of course is ridiculous and must prevent him from ever acting. This is very extreme self doubt, and could be crippling. Prufrock also talks excessively about the concept of time, as mentioned earlier. He says how much time he has to do all he wants- he obviously doesn't need to do it today- and that anything that happens now can be reversed later easily and fast. Of course this means that he will never get much done as it seems he will keep on saying this until it is far too late, and appears to be another excuse for his lack of assertiveness and inability to act.
The reasons for this low opinion of himself and his incredibly low confidence are not certain. It could be due to his strange way of thinking or viewing the world, such as finding peace in being a surgical patient, or it could be due to the world he finds himself living in of cheap hotels and rough streets. Whatever it is, it has manifested in an inability to act due to what others think or what might someday happen, and an overthinking and over rationalizing of every situation. This is however a curable ailment. All his problems begin and end in his own mind, and that is what must be fixed if he is too ever find happiness. He must learn to care less about what others think, to let go of his anxiety, and to view the world through a different lens- one of opportunities for greatness rather than a million and one possibilities to miserably fail.