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Kyoonwon Yang “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” an early famous poem of T. S. Eliot’s, is evaluated lower than his later masterpieces such as The Waste Land and Four Quartets. The evaluation seems valid when their languages and literary techniques are comparatively taken into consideration. But when it comes to the critique that Prufrock is not strong enough to represent Eliot both as the progenitor of the twentieth-century’s modernism and as the advocate of traditional orthodoxy, it would be fair to give him reappraisal. This article examines Prufrock in order to prove that he has good reason to be treated as a lesser hero qualified with a stronger spirit than often expected. First, Prufrock is not in a schizophrenic state, since the divided selves are deliberately dramatized with a monologue technique within the poet’s inner space, and finally unified again in the end. The protagonist needs a stronger spirit to remain in the uncertainties of the self division than to indiscreetly set the world in order. Second, Prufrock’s hesitation or irresolution ironically proves that he keeps seeking his wish despite his full knowledge of future defeat. Hesitation will stop as soon as hope stops. Prufrock is capable of being stuck in the abyss between his keen awareness of defeat and his stubborn refusal to stop the quest. This situation continues throughout the poem, which must require him to have much bearability. Third, Prufrock’s drowning in the imaginary sea is simultaneous with his waking up in the real world. His death by water is almost willful. In the end, Prufrock as the unified “we” is not drowned but “drown,” for the sake of the real world, with which he is baffled, over which he can’t afford to come, and in which he chooses to stay. These qualifications demand that Prufrock be newly interpreted as a hero, even though as a lesser kind.


Kyoonwon Yang “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” an early famous poem of T. S. Eliot’s, is evaluated lower than his later masterpieces such as The Waste Land and Four Quartets. The evaluation seems valid when their languages and literary techniques are comparatively taken into consideration. But when it comes to the critique that Prufrock is not strong enough to represent Eliot both as the progenitor of the twentieth-century’s modernism and as the advocate of traditional orthodoxy, it would be fair to give him reappraisal. This article examines Prufrock in order to prove that he has good reason to be treated as a lesser hero qualified with a stronger spirit than often expected. First, Prufrock is not in a schizophrenic state, since the divided selves are deliberately dramatized with a monologue technique within the poet’s inner space, and finally unified again in the end. The protagonist needs a stronger spirit to remain in the uncertainties of the self division than to indiscreetly set the world in order. Second, Prufrock’s hesitation or irresolution ironically proves that he keeps seeking his wish despite his full knowledge of future defeat. Hesitation will stop as soon as hope stops. Prufrock is capable of being stuck in the abyss between his keen awareness of defeat and his stubborn refusal to stop the quest. This situation continues throughout the poem, which must require him to have much bearability. Third, Prufrock’s drowning in the imaginary sea is simultaneous with his waking up in the real world. His death by water is almost willful. In the end, Prufrock as the unified “we” is not drowned but “drown,” for the sake of the real world, with which he is baffled, over which he can’t afford to come, and in which he chooses to stay. These qualifications demand that Prufrock be newly interpreted as a hero, even though as a lesser kind.