Use of Modernist Literary Techniques in Eliot's, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and Journey of the Magi

Topics: Jesus, T. S. Eliot, Modernism Pages: 3 (1153 words) Published: August 20, 2013
‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (‘Prufrock’) and ‘Journey of the Magi’ (‘Magi’) are two of T. S. Eliot’s poems which continue to engage readers through Eliot’s use of modernist techniques and ideas. Eliot’s innovative use of techniques such as symbolism and fragmentation are reason enough for the lingering interest of his poems for his readers, almost a century after they were composed. During his context, early 20th century in America and England, Eliot’s original exploration of ideas concerning the human psyche and the stream of consciousness through poetry were, and continue to be, thought-provoking endeavours which enraptured his audiences’ curiosity and continues to today. Readers respond to texts in different ways, interpreting different readings of a literary work. Freudian readings were common in the modernist era as they were concerned with a psychological approach to a text, one which evaluated the inner life of the characters. ‘Prufrock’ is often interpreted in this psychoanalytical sense as the reader experiences Prufrock’s stream of consciousness and his feelings of inadequacy in relation to social relationships. “…they will say: how his hair is growing thin! is arms and legs are thin…” (Stanza 7) These lines are indicative of Prufrock’s fear of being fully exposed to another human as he doesn’t see himself as a worthwhile individual and clarify the Freudian interpretation of the poem. ‘Magi’ is frequently studied, on a metaphorical level, as a journey towards Christianity and is often viewed as an account of Eliot’s own conversion to Christianity. Throughout the poem, evidence is supplied to allude to a Christian reading in order for Eliot to portray his own emotions of the subject. The Magi are indicative of the three wise men in the Bible, journeying to the birth of the Christ child. “…then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley…” (Line 21) The reference to dawn is representative of new life and birth, a concept which the reader...
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