Eliot Stevens Williams Stein and Faulkner Term Paper

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Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Specifically, it will choose one instance of abstraction in the work, and describe what the author is trying to "get at," through that abstraction. What is he trying to suggest? What methods is he using to do so? Does it "work" for you? Why or why not?

Abstraction in Poetry

In "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock," T.S. Eliot writes in many abstractions, but there is one at the end, which is especially poignant and full of meaning. "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. / I do not think that they will sing to me. / I have seen them riding seaward on the waves / Combing the white hair of the waves blown back / When the wind blows the water white and black. / We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
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/ By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us, and we drown" (Eliot).

Clearly, this passage is an abstraction because the mermaids he refers to do not exist, nor do "sea-girls wreathed with seaweed," and so, this is an abstraction for a dream - a lovely dream that the narrator does not want to awake from. This passage is clearly consciously unrealistic, but unrealistic in order to suggest something about our own lives, and how we dream. We often dream of fantastic things such as mermaids under the sea to remove ourselves from the day-to-day stresses and stains of living, just as this narrator dreams of mermaids as he walks along a deserted beach. Dreams are our unconscious way of escaping, and of creating alternate worlds where we can be different people.

What is especially poignant about…

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