Alfred Prufrock" Elliot continually writes in the voice of Prufrock, and Prufrock struggles to answer his life's "overwhelming question." (10) With what is J. Alfred Prufrock is so desperately struggling? He tussles with his intrapersonal paralysis to pursue women while making attempts to stave off aging. This indecisiveness creates a very bleak and semi-morbid image throughout the poem. Eliot's beginning and ending to this poem very strongly convey Prufrock's internal battle. Aging and the absence of women in his life seem to be the cause of Prufrock's is morbidity and distress; however, through this his poem we see that Prufrock is a man who has passion and creativity, and is becomes more clear that Prufrocks hell is that he has nobody with whom he can share passion or love. His paper has become his passion and his lover. .
The epigraph of the poem is a passage from Dante Aligheri's Divine Comedy, more specifically the Inferno. The Inferno is Dante's journey through the rings of Hell in his search for enlightenment. Eliot uses this theme to support Prufrock's feelings that he is stuck in his own personal hell. Another similarity between the two works is the descending theme. In the Inferno, Dante travels further and further down through the rings of hell on his way up to the heavens. In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Eliot starts his description at the skyline slowly works his down to a finale in the sea. .
The first ten lines of the poem are the beginning of his austere descent to discover his inability to "eat a peach" (Eliot 124) with a peach being a traditional metaphor for a woman's genitalia. Eliot uses the metaphor of "a patient etherized" (3) to Prufrock's incapacity to engage the women who he looks upon, as a cat outside a window, throughout the poem. Prufrock appears to be lonely, so Eliot gives him the companion of the unknown listener (the reader) to escort him in his downward spiral.