Thursday, March 11, 2010

T. S. Eliot Guide Questions

FON American Literature T. S. Eliot Guide Questions

1. Is The “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” a love song in any traditional sense? In any modern sense?

2. What is suggested by the name “Prufrock”?

3. Who is “you” in the first line? What is the effect of the imagery in the opening lines? How, if at all does the identity of the “you” seem to shift throughout the poem?

4. Note that in Eliot’s poem the “you” of the first line becomes “we” in the final stanza. Are “I” and “you” the same as “we”? Is “we” all the J. Alfred Prufrocks of the world?

5. Which of the following best describes “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”?
a. It is a dramatic monologue like those written by the English poet Robert Browning, with a speaker and a listener.

b. It is an interior monologue in which the speaker, “I,” addresses his alter ego, “you.”

c. It is a poem spoken by “I” to “you” the reader.
6. What is suggested by the poem’s repeated references to Michelangelo? Do they suggest that in this society even Michelangelo becomes merely the subject of meaningless social parley, inconsequential small talk?

7. What is the effect of the allusions in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” to the sea and to its creatures, real and mythical?

8. Line 92 of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” alludes to Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” (lines 41–42). How is Marvell’s famous carpe diem poem ironically suited to the meaning of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”?

9. Are Prufrock’s attitudes the same at the end as at the beginning of the poem? Or does the language imply a change?

10. Eliot has been described as having a “long-standing detestation of women.” Discuss his treatment of women in his poems, especially in “The Waste Land.” Is the picture of them always negative? Have they any redeeming features?

11. How does the seduction of the typist in “The Waste Land” compare to the way Prufrock thinks about women in his Love Song?

12. Is “The Waste Land” devoid of social criticism? How does it use images of dryness and sterility to convey the sense of a postwar spiritual wasteland? How does he develop past/present contrasts in the poem?

13. How does Eliot use myth and allusion in “The Waste Land”? How does he deal with religion?

14. In “Journey of the Magi”, in what time of life is the Magus?

15. In “Journey of the Magi,” what is implied by the statement that the birth of Christ was “like Death, our death” (line 39)?

16. How is Eliot important to the development of modernist poetry in America? How can his role be compared with and contrasted to that of Frost?

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