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Biplob Prodhan
  • 4 months ago
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What elements of irony do you find in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock? [NU. 2014]

 Or. Explain the irony inherent in the title of the poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Comment on the significance of the title The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
Or, Bring out the ironical implications used in the title of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. [NU. 2009]

Ans. Irony is a literary device or mode of humorous or sarcastic expression in which the intended meaning of the words used is the very opposite of their usual sense. The main focus of irony is contrast between what is expressed and what is implied. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is replete with different kinds of ironies.

The title of the poem indicates that it is a love song but, in fact, it is a story of failure in love. In the poem there is hardly any mention of lovemaking. The lover rather invents reason for postponing the proposal to the lady. He analyses his feelings which reveals his helplessness and his incapacity for love. There are two obstacles in the way of his making a love proposal. Firstly he is very much concerned about his old age. Secondly, he is reluctant to give up the single state in which he has been engaging himself in sexual intimacy with opposite sex. The irony of situation is that he would like to make love but there are serious issues which prevent him from doing so. He yearns for love but he has no capacity for it.

The protagonist in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock finds excuses for postponing his decisions. As an ordinary lover he should have been bold and aggressive, but, in reality, he is cowardly and timid. He feels like a pinned worm who cannot face the curious eyes of ladies. Throughout the whole poem Prufrock talks of love, but he wants to assail his beloved and escape the reality:

Again in the poem there is a strange juxtaposition of the high and the low, the grand and the mean. The important things are placed side by side with the trivial. Let us see the contrast between the first and the last line – “Let us go then you and I” is the antithesis of the last line – “Till human voices wake us and we drown”. Similarly what starts as very important in value is brought down to the level of the mean and the trivial. For example, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”. Thus through ironical implication the poet has brought about the futility and barrenness of urban life.

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