The poem concerns with a character (Prufrock) that can see and understand the values in life – love, joy, companionship, and courageousness – but is unable to act on his longings. The poem shows constant struggles of Prufrock's uselessness. The worst part about his uselessness is that he is conscious of it. T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" portrays a man's inability to take decisive action even as he sees what is necessary. This passivity affects the speaker's perception of himself, his ability to give and receive love, and, his ability to make something meaningful of his life. Through his impotent, dream-haunted Prufrock, Eliot defines the human condition in the face of a modern world, which is disconnected from, of all but the remnants of meaning. T.S. Eliot uses the theme of Paralysis, the incapacity to act, throughout the whole poem.
Prufrock is a middle-aged man, who seems to be going through a mid life crisis, and is afraid to commit to anything. He lives such a depressing life. From the start of the poem, the readers can see a sense of paralysis in Prufrock. "Like a patient etherized upon a table,"(603). Ether was once used as an anesthetic, which is a drug that puts patients to sleep for surgeries. The use of ether in line three has two different meanings to it. The first being how Prufrock views himself; he feels as if he cannot achieve anything, as if he is in a constant state of being etherized. The second use of "being etherized," is that he incapable of relating to the beauty of the world, which is an immensely depressing thought to have. This is a constant struggle with Prufrock because he always feels as if he is not good enough. Beauty plays a crucial role in Prufrock's paralysis. His constant thoughts of not being beautiful enough, and always feeling as people are judging him, make him feel not strong enough; thus leading to not being able to pursue anything.