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The Love song is a poem written by J Alfred Prufrock which clearly illustrates and portrays allusions of hell’s existence. Other major themes evident in the poem include self-consciousness and punishment which are discussed into details throughout the poem as well as in the epigraph. The following discussion is focused on analyzing these major themes in the poem with reference to Prufrock and Dante represented in the epigraph.
The Epigraph of Prufrock’s poem consists of six lines which are quotations from Canto 27 belonging to the inferno by an Italian Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri. The epigraph refers to a meeting that took involving Dante and Guido da Montefeltro who in the poem was condemned for providing counsel to Pope Boniface VII to the eighth circle of Hell. This epigraph is used to cast some ironic light concerning Prufrock’s intent which was that, his story never be told. The epigraph demonstrates how Prufrock’s love song was revealed by various scholars including Guido and Eliot (Eliot 2).
In the poem, various illustrations and allusions have been used and brought out to demonstrate Prufrock’s inability to behave and act with the rest of the society. Prufrock’s actions demonstrate a sense of fear to associate with societal happenings. The essence of Prufrock creating a hell on earth for himself is as well witnessed through the epigraph that introduces the poem. Prufrock’s thoughts are inclined to loneliness as demonstrated by his writing and his intentions when he never wanted his story to be told (Dante 1). As demonstrated above, Prufrock creates his own personal hell on earth through his actions. Critics and analysts of his love song and poem illustrates well that Prufrock never wanted personal interactions and highly kept to himself in many instances unless when inevitable. His belief in the culture of unbelief and silence as way of presenting modernity in poetic works is a clear avenue for personal hell creation amidst people (Eliot 2).
As discussed above, the epigraph is used at the beginning of the poem. Dante’s inferno is used as a character in the eighth circle of cell. This story tells the story of Dante who had messed up with his life so that it required some nice works of those good people in heaven. To deter Dante from further evil, heaven is forced to send another poet, “Virgil” to offer him a guide through horrors of hell commonly referred as the Inferno (Dante 2). In this poem, Prufrock punishes himself with guilt through self inclinations and beliefs of self in a populous society. His fraudulent and deceitful nature only inflicts guilt and a sense of self punishment through living in continual paralysis in shadow existence. The situation is more when Prufrock only devotes to share his unfortunate information of his nature to himself alone rather than the larger world (Eliot 3).
In his narrative, Dante explains how his self consciousness resulted to him being taken to the eighth circle in hell which deals with treachery and conscious fraud. Dante’s self conscious is disturbed due to his channel he used to get to the eighth circle when he used descending vast cliff behind Geryon (Dante 3). Prufrock is always super paranoid concerning consequences of his actions which he feared would result to a woman’s rejection of him. His thoughts are guided by the fact that he is not a Prince Hamlet figure but instead a secondary character in life. His old age worries him to a point he prefers youthful lifestyle (Eliot 3). This youthful lifestyle is acerbated by the fact that, Prufrock lacks self confidence as an old person and wants to be young to associate with youthful affairs. More agonizing is his appearance as an old person since he has an intention of pleasing young beautiful ladies (Eliot 3).
The Love Song is a poem that deals with various major themes including hell, guilt, self-consciousness and punishment. The main character portrayed is Prufrock who is a self centered person and reserved. He considers self inflicted nature of life besides punishing himself with gilt of self infliction. Prufrock considers himself as the absolute nature who does not share his situation with the large populace. Self consciousness as a major theme in the epigraph as demonstrated by Dante explains how someone gets to the eighth circles of hell. Age is another factor that disturbs characters in the poem like Prufrock to a point of assuming a youthful lifestyle to attract the attention of women.