Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Prufrock and MIP Socratic

Please answer the following questions on your own; then you can start a discussion thread with others based on your questions and responses.  Be thorough, give SPECIFIC textual support if referencing the poem and challenge one another.

1.  How is T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" a quintessential modernist poem? (Hence, what is Eliot criticizing through this narrator's voice?)
2.  Characterize the speaker in this poem.  How does this characterization mirror the feelings of modernism?
3.  In the poem, which line stood out to you the most?  Explicate its meaning and tell me why it resonates with you.
4.  How does Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, reflect modernist values and tenets?

When you are finished, please ask a question that would spark some conversation about either the poem or the movie or the synthesis between them.

Please have a discussion with your classmates regarding your questions, and as you respond to one another, at the end of your responses, try to write another question to keep conversations moving forward.


  1. 1. Elliot seems to be criticizing how everyone would rather talk about thin arms or baldness, even as he prepares to ask them something on a deeper level, something he found more important than rolled up trousers and peaches. He expresses his frustration by making the narrator decide to blend in and fret over the state of his trousers and his peach consumption habits rather than saying whatever his "overwhelming" question is. Elliot shows how the world is trying to stomp out any change without ever pausing in their gossip sessions about the latest art to listen to the changer's ideas.
    2. At first, the speaker is an individual, bright person with interesting ideas. He has a unique vision for how the world should change, and is in the process of trying to work up the courage to say it. But as he climbs the "stairs" and ages into a thin legged man with a bald spot, it becomes clear that no one will be able to focus on anything other than this, and he, too, becomes drawn in by these things. The character posses modernistic ideas at the beginning of the poem, but he never gets to share them. That captures the sort of elusive nature of such a philosophy. His views are drowned out by the droning about Michelangelo, and pretty soon he is overtaken in them.
    3. The line that stood out to me the most was the one about the fog, and how the fog was commonly mentioned in the beginning of the poem. I thought it must represent the foggy haze that society fills it's mind with. The whole thing about how the fog nuzzles the windows and or licks it, followed by the talk of Michelangelo, explains that people in their own minds are so trapped in their "fog" that they can't see out the window's to other things, they can see and hear only what's in the "room". Fog has a sort of muffling quality, so when I read that line, I always think of a hazy room where I can only hear a sort of dim murmur of "Michelangelo". In that situation, with fog obscuring everything else, I would be likely to try to cling to whatever I saw or heard that wasn't fog, because fog really isn't that exciting.
    4. It kind of shows how the main character was interested in the past, which meant he was slightly different from that airhead of a fiance he had. Pardon me for being rude, but she kind of was. Anyway, he has a sort of revelation about how the present in it of itself is not satisfying. He also realizes the past is not satisfying. Modernist thinking requires the thinker to be a little unsatisfied so they can start thinking about ways to fix it, and ultimately get shot down repeatedly and rejected by society until a hundred years after they die when someone picks up their ideas, calls them brilliant, and declares their long deceased writer a genius. Fun life.

    1. Why would Elliot choose to write from the perspective of a character? If he believed this, could he not just write some sort of personal narrative?
    2. Since he did write it from the perspective of a character, what could that signify? What could Elliot have been trying to portray in using characters to express his belief?
    3. Who thinks Woody Allen had an awful obsession with that one little song that was played somewhere in the range of twenty to thirty times during that movie and would have drastically improved the mood of his viewers by adding VARIATION?

  2. 1. Through the voice of Prufrock T.S Eliot seems to be criticizing how people focused on materialistic or mundane problems and facts. They seemed to be more concerned with “a bald spot in the middle of my hair” rather than the important things. The fact that Prufrock has something important to say in the beginning of the poem but over time forgets what he has to say and becomes concerned with eating or rooms he wants to visit. Through this Eliot is criticizing peoples disconnection with actual problems and issues of the time and their concern with partying and drinking or physical attributes. He becomes too afraid to ask his question and becomes comfortable where he is; people of the time were not concerned with social change but rather settled with the fact the life is how it is.

    2. In the beginning of the poem Prufrock seems to be a visionary in a way, he has some bright ideas, “an overwhelming question”. As the poem develops so does the speaker, he begins to forget his question or is too afraid to ask it. He forgets his purpose, like many people of the time, maybe they had visionary ideas but over time they were more concerned with other things rather than what they should be doing. Throughout the poem also the speakers voice becomes more and more pessimistic. At the very end of the poem it shows how the time has poisoned Prufrock, he speaks of a great underwater realm but in the end “human voices wake us, and we drown”. Showing in the end they woke from their day dream and realized what they had done to themselves but by then it was too late, Prufrock never asked his question.

    3. My favorite line of the poem was, “I have measured my life with coffee spoons.”
    It seems to be showing what else has Prufrock done with his life, he seems to want to impress us with this image but in actuality it’s a depressing image. He has drank a lot of coffee indeed, he lives his life cup to cup having little regard for what he does in between, the people he meets and the what he experiences. This spoke to me because firstly it is a great image. Secondly it really shows the spirit of Prufrock, he wants us to be impressed with this idea but really it shows his disconnect with most things, he enjoys a cup of coffee more than the company of people, which I can certainly relate to.

    4. Midnight in Paris and Prufrock really went hand in hand. Gil was a sort of Prufrock himself. He was disconnected with his time as Gil was, he did not find the same kind of joy in the company of the people around him rather he thought of the past as this “greater time”. Woody Allen depicted the 20’s quite well a time of little regard for responsibilities, they just wanted to write and to drink. Through their drunken haze they could barely see the degradation of their relationship or of society only to be awaken by the “human voices” T.S. Eliot speaks of, but by this time it was too late, the damage had been done. Many writers in MIP, like Hemingway had tragic endings, he committed suicide. All they cared about like Prufrock was their next cup of coffee whether their arms were too thin. Gil though, in MIP, escapes this tragic end because he realizes that one must face their present to truly live.

    1. Do we all see the bleakness in our society, are some just naive or chose to ignore it?

  3. 1. This poem is a perfect example of a modernist poem because it the man is afraid of living and is bored all the time. It embraces the common modernist themes of order vs. chaos, fear, disorientation, despair, pessimism, alienation from society, and loneliness.
    2. The speaker in this poem, Prufrock, is a sad, sad man. He starts as someone who invites us somewhere and keeps on stalling the arrival of his big question. He reveals in this that he is scared and has fear of something. As the poem continues, his true identity is revealed and we realise that he is someone who is sad and honest with himself on the inside. We also learn that Prufrock is someone who cares about his appearance and doesn’t want to do crazy things that are not the norm of society. He keeps his clothes nice and has quality possessions but he is bored all the time. This whole character relates to the feelings of modernism because modernists feeling alone and pessimistic about the world and society.
    3. The line that stood out to me the most is line 52 which is “I know the voices dying with a dying fall”. I think this line means that he is familiar with death and he knows what dying is like. A dying fall is something in music were the notes fade away. He is trying to show that he notices that people fade away until they are dead. That people slowly start to notice and pay attention to them less and less as they get closer to death. This line resonates with me because the topic of death is somewhat interesting and something that is unknown to humans. When he notices the reality that death brings, it makes me realise it too. It is sad but true at the same time which is something that is hard to deal with.
    4. Woody Allen’s film reflects modernist values and tenets by the way Gil thinks and acts. He idolizes the past and dreams on living in the roaring 1920s. He unknowingly feels lonely and sad in his relationship with his fiance because they are not right for each other and they don’t listen and understand each other. Gil also rejects the urban setting in his Hollywood job and loves the craft of writing his book which helps him step away from modern society.

    Question: How do the tenets of modernism reflect in ourselves today?

  4. 1. It shows the struggles of modernists, the internal and external struggle of not knowing what to do in life. Of life being to complicated for them to work out so they are always questioning one thing while doing another. Elliot shows how much modernists questioned a lot and a lot about the time they are living in as in Midnight in Paris. Throughout the whole poem Prufrock seems to be questioning whether or not to do something, hinting towards a women that has come into his life. Through the narrators voice Elliot is criticizing how people always want more in life than they have but then when they think they get what they want they still are not satisfied.
    2. The character, Prufrock, seems to be rather somber and indecisive throughout the poem. Elliot set him up so he could represent modernism as a whole and show its own characteristics through Prufrock's qualities in the poem. Prufrock has a unique view of the world and has his own unique ideas. Elliot also seems to push this idea of being afraid to get old, being afraid of whats to come next. Prufrock really seems to just be conflicted by his thoughts which have been complicated by his life. Elliot shows this by giving the problem of this other women that Prufrock could act on or not.
    3. "And indeed there will be time. To wonder 'Do I dare?' and 'Do I dare?' Time to turn back and descend the stair with a bald spot in the middle of my hair." Pg. 664 This quote stood out to me the most for several reasons. First off the situation is whether or not he should sleep with this mysterious girl. So when he says he has time to wonder its showing that although he does have time to think about it he still wants to do it. Then wen he is asking do i dare it could be applied to modernists ideals as a whole. If you think about it that is how they go through life asking if they themselves dare. And more often than not they do. When he is talking about descending down the stair I interpreted it as him wondering what would happen if he didn't do it. And realizing that he is young now but will eventually grow old, I think this though saddens him quite a bit. I wonder if it is that thought of why not now that ultimately decides Prufrock's decision.
    4. Woodt Allen shows the modernist theology through his main character Gil, and also through the allusion of old Paris contrasted with modern Paris. He gives Gil this sense of wanting something more of looking for something he cant seem to quite find. In the movie they say Gil seems to have a piece meaning, and in part I think they are right because of his modernistic ideal and characteristics. He also shows the ideal of wanting to live in a different time of not being satisfied with the present of that longing for something more than whats in front of you.

    1. Nice John! I really liked how you tied it all back to the poem and the main ideas in it. How do we see Modernism today?

  5. 1.) Through this poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot, the reader can sense a factor of Modernism and how the Author uses the character in the poem to support modernist views. Prufrock is a modern, cool, collected, but very in-the-age type of guy who sees many problems with the world around him. The poem is a classic Modernist poem in that Eliot uses this character to bring to light many of the modernist tenants and ideals. One example of this is when he talks of being Lazarus, rising from the dead, “‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all...” (Eliot 666). This is a great example of how Prufrock believes that he is the man to come and change the world, to astound men, and to improve society. He has this desire to tell everyone something, which the reader never finds out. Overall, this reflects on modernist ideals because this shows how Prufrock has come from frustration and misery, symbolized by death in Lazarus, and now he has a message to share with the world, and he is here today, living in the present, and looking forward to what is to come day by day, holding on to life. These ideals and many others reflected in the poem make this a quintessential Modernist poem.
    2.) The speaker in this poem is Prufrock, he is the main character and has a lot of views and is overall very strongly opinionated. This kind of strong-willed, high class man, is the perfect reflection and symbol of modernism. Modernism is very rich, very image-oriented, where people cared about their image, but also wanted to stick out and change the ways of society to how they wanted them. The 1920’s is a good example of this when people lived for the day instead of the morrow. This is greatly shown through Prufrock in that his character fit the ideals of modernism. Eliot exposes this, “I grow old...I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?” (Eliot 666). Thus we see that Prufrock is a symbol for modernism. The rolled pants, the long hair he can make into a ponytail, he doesn’t follow the rules, but he lives by the day and is in himself a very modernist character.
    3.) “My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin-...Do I dare” (Eliot 664). I like these lines because I think that they really reflect the image of America and white collar jobs. This so vividly is an integral piece in the overarching idea, which introduces the juxtaposition between how Prufrock is at the beginning versus how he is at the end. The reader sees a lot of character change from a complacent man, to a modernist man with strong views and spicy personality. Overall, I think that these lines paint a beautiful image that show an impressive time in American history.
    4.) Midnight in Paris also reflects upon Modernism in that the main character doesn’t like his present life, and so he goes back in time to enjoy the history that he loves and cherishes. He is a contrast to Modernism, and living in the present, and enjoying each day, as he goes back in time to hide from the present he has. Ultimately, this technique used by the producer was very effective as it showed what is missing when men don’t live in their time and place. In this way, the movie Midnight in Paris reflects Modernist tenets.

    1. Would you say the Modernist era is over? Or do we still follow some of the same tenets today?

  6. 1. The poem, "The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock" shows many ideals of modernism and can almost be seen as the foundation for this time period. T.S. Elliot uses this poem to show modernistic view and how they see life. The character within this poem sees himself in his life as the best he can be, but as the poem progresses he begins to realize that although he has many great things in his life, he can only ever be second rate. T.S.Elliot is criticizing the fact that humans have a need to have the best of everything and constantly need to be stimulated. When Prufrock realizes that all his desires and dreams are not fulfilling in his life, he notices the many faults in humanity and how empty his past was. His lack of risk taking has left him with a feeling of sadness due to the fact that his life does not meet his standards.
    2. Prufrock has many characteristics about him that make him represent essential modernistic view points. Prufrock is afraid for his future and longs for his past. The poem talks about how Prufrock fears aging and taking risks in his life. He wants to live in his past as well as forget about his future. This mirrors modernistic views because he fears his inevitable death yet longs to be in his past. Prufrock transition from being a young man who live some what of a cautious life who is content and feels a purpose in his orderly life, to someone who has second guessed all that he has stood for, where all he can see is chaos in his future. Finding order in the past and chaos in the future defines modernism.
    3. A quote from the poem that really stood out to me was from line 37 to 40, it stated,"And indeed there will be time, To wonder, "Do I dare" and, "Do I dare?" Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair." This quote starts off by saying time goes on and there is no way, shape, or form that can stop it. Life comes at you fast and you may not be ready for the challenges that comes with it. The second line talks about "daring" to take risks in life. Taking risks is what make life interesting and satisfing. It stimulates the human psyche and makes one feel as though their choices impact their life. It provides a sense of order to oneself. The third line shows how moderistic view of always relying and longing for the past distract from the now. Modernist view the present as dull and boring but view their past as vibrant and lively. Yet when some one is only focused on the past they skip past the present and end up in their future, which is a fear of modernists. And when they reach this point of introspection in their future they reflect on their life, in what seems to be empty, for not risks were taken and they only focused on the past. This is what is meant by the "Bald spot" in the last line of the chosen passage.
    4. Woody Allen's film shows modernistic views on many levels. It chows how the conflicts of the present drive a person to long for the past, which they see as a better time. The past has order and stimulates Gil, while the present is chaotic and is dull in Gil's point of view. Eventually Gil realizes that life is somewhat unsatisfying and a person will naturally long for the past, yet in doing so they will moose perspective in the present. Once a person goes through this thought process, they reflect back upon their life and realize how empty it has been, much like how Gil felt about his previous life as a writer and as a script writer.

    Question: Why did Allen feel the need to express modernistic view even though the modernistic movement is now long gone?


  7. 1) I think what Eliot tries to show through the poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is about how the world is not going in the right direction. I sort of found the whole modernism unit to kind of talk about how people’s priorities are not as good as they should be. On line twenty of the poem it states, “I grow old… I grow old… I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled” (Eliot). I found this quote to say how as the narrator grows older, his life gets worse. He thinks of the past as the “golden age” like in the movie, and because he has this sort of mindset he can never be happy in this time or find love in the current time. I think Eliot criticizes the present and the future by saying it can never be as good as the past.

    2) The character of the speaker in the poem is that he is the basic modern man, but really does not focus on his emotions too much. The reason for this is he is afraid of what he thinks others will think about him. He has an education and seems to be a smart man, but his emotions seems to be gone. He has a crush on this girl and wants to tell her how he feels about her, only his judgment and ideas get in the way of him acting upon his thoughts. This idea is clearly shown in this quote, “And indeed there will be time To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, “Do I dare?’ Time to turn back and descend the stair” (Eliot). He keeps overthinking these actions instead of just going for it because his emotions lack strength. This man has never really had the courage to go out and be who he really is beyond the books. Also, his feel of uncertainty goes along with modernism really well. In the quote listed above, he repeats “do I dare” because he does not know which decision he should make. While people adjusted to the new fast pace of the modern world, one of the ways the avoided making decisions was to just not make them. Instead they would just avoid the question at hand and that is what lead to the characteristic of indecisive in the modernism time.

    3) The line in the poem that really stuck out to me was when Prufrock talks abn out how he has always lived life through other people. On line 53 he illustrates this idea, “I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room So how should I presume?” (Eliot). Eliot uses the verb “dying”, and I found this really significant because it means that you can never get it back. Instead of using the verb “fading” or “dissolving” he uses “dying” cause once it is dead, it can never come back. It is almost like he can feel the personality inside of him dying, and he has no idea what to do about it. The “voices from the other room” slowly creep into his soul and push their opinion onto him, and he has no idea what to do to stop it. This is sort of a struggle people still have today in my opinion because I think people can find it very hard to truly be themselves. No matter how many be original posters one may see with the one different colored flower, lots of people still find it hard to be the different flower. People like to feel connected with others, and I think this was a fear of modernism. The fear that people would lose their originality, and I think this is still a very logical fear people can have today.


  8. 4) Woody Allen’s film Midnight In Paris reflects modernists views because it starts out with this man Gil who thinks he is happy, but he is not quite sure because I do not think he knows what true happiness is. He made a fair amount of money writing in Hollywood which was great while it lasted, but now he wants to do more, including writing his own original novel. He enjoys walking around the ancient city of Paris and seeing all the historical sights, and dreams about moving there when all his fiancé wants is to live in the nice, modern, fancy city of Malibu. Then, as if by some miracle, he is transported into the time he considered to be the golden age. Suddenly, everything he thinks that has gone wrong with the world is fixed because it is the past where there seemed to be less problems then there are today. Once he has been back to the past a few times, he realizes the present is really the place for him. The ending to the movie is a bit happier than most of the modern era, but the start of the movie has the same ideas. Gil was indecisive because he did not know what his emotions were really trying to tell him. He glorified the past by thinking about it all the time and how it would have been better to live back then than live now. His communication was very poor with the people around him, especially the ones he claimed to love. While at the end of the movie he overcomes all of the modernism fears he had before, he definitely started out the movie possessing all of those qualities.


    1) Do you think most of us possess qualities of modernism today? Why or why not?

    2) Do you think that as technology advanced and the amount of time needed to connect with more people decreased, the quality of communication between people also decreased?
    3) How can we avoid becoming knowledge robots who have no emotional feelings at all? Is that the direction we are headed?

    1. Response to question #1: I think there are many people today who possess at least some qualities of modernism. People often think the past was far better than the present and always wish to be living in another time. People also tend to forget the importance of enjoying the present moment and look at the positives in life. I also think everyone worries about the future to some extent. Some people are opposite of that and only wish for a future time. Still, there are plenty of positive people and people who have learned to appreciate each day and what it holds for them. Overall, I believe that there is a mix of people today. Some people are more modernistic and others are not.

  9. 1.) T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a quintessential modernist poem because it shows that people waste the time that they have in the present and are not happy with what is right in front of them. Eliot shows this through Prufrock constantly saying, “There will be time, there will be time,” as he pushes off what he could do today, until another time. He also doesn’t want to do anything that will disrupt everyday life, “Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse” (p. 664, Eliot) Prufrock, like other Modernists, is afraid of aging and death, “And indeed there will be time To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and ‘Do I dare?’ Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair--” (p. 664, Eliot) T.S. Eliot criticizes the worry and negativity that people have for life. He shows that people should be happy in the present and enjoy what time they have. Eliot points out what can happen if people don’t make the best out of every moment and don’t take chances that will make them happy.

    2.) Prufrock is nervous and indecisive, as well as afraid of the future. Prufrock even says, “And in short, I was afraid” (p.665, Eliot) He hesitates about everything and procrastinates. He puts off asking a particular question saying, “Oh do not ask , ‘What is it?’ Let us go and make our visit” (p. 664, Eliot). He constantly doubts himself and always feels despair. Modernists share all these characteristics that Prufrock has. T.S. Eliot uses Prufrock to show what the modernists are like. It also could be used to show the Modernists themselves, how others see them.

    3.) I think the line that says, “And would it have been worth it, after all,” (p. 665, Eliot) stood out most to me because it shows the question Prufrock will always have to ask about his life. He never takes a risk whether it be large or small; therefore, Prufrock never knows whether anything he could have done would be worthwhile. He is constantly afraid of what’s to come and never tries to do something new in life. He can never be happy or content. I think it is better to know that a few things someone did were not worth it, rather than never knowing at all. Many things in life are worth it, even if they are mistakes, because people learn from mistakes. Prufrock will miss out on most of his life. Prufrock and other people with his same mindset are all destined to wonder if anything they could or should have done would be worthwhile. I think T.S. Eliot was probably trying to point out the flaws in that way of thinking.

    4.) Woody Allen’s film, “Midnight in Paris,” reflects Modernist values and tenets because the main character, Gil Pender, starts out with many Modernist views. He is afraid of death and he doesn’t take chances, such as moving to Paris or becoming a full-time novelist. He also loves the past and believes it is much better than the present or future. He longs for the simplicity of the 1920’s and everything about it. Gil has trouble voicing his feelings and seems a little lost about what to do with his life. Though Gil eventually changes his view on life, these are very Modernist characteristics that he begins with.

    Why were the Modernists so negative about their present lives?

    Did most Modernists find a new outlook on life like Gil does in the movie or did most end up like Prufrock in the poem?

    1. Response to Question #2: I think that most people would eventually end up like Gil, especially as time went on. Older people tend to be stuck in their ways like Prufrock in the poem. They tend to not be as open to change because they have lived their whole life a certain way. On the other hand, the younger generation tries to stray from their parents in order to be different, and so I think most of the time they embrace change in order to find that difference. In the end, most people will eventually have to find a way to accept the change because it is very unlikely the world will change back. While the past may seem in theory to be the best of the two, in reality the future has more to offer so the people who look towards the future will most likely be better off in the modern times. Unlike in the movie, time travel is not yet possible so people have to learn to accommodate to the time they live in now and not live in the past.


  10. 1. Prufrock criticizes the superficiality of the society when he says, “they will say: how his hair is growing thin!” The society that Prufrock lives in does not care about the inner character but only outer appearance. The society is meaningless because Prufrock feels he has “measured out” his “life with coffee spoons.”

    2. The speaker of this poem is a balding, insecure middle-aged man. He expresses his thoughts about the dull and mediocre life he leads as a result of his feelings of inadequacy and his fear of making decisions; which is shown by his repetition of the line “So how should I presume.” Unable to seize opportunities or take risks, he lives in a world that is always the same. He does try to make progress, but his timidity and fear of failure stop him from taking action. Prufrock is a pathetic man whose anxieties and obsessions have isolated him. He only sees the negative side of his own life and the lives of others. In turn, the speaker shows feelings of loss, despair, rejection of history, alienation from society and an inability to act: all of which are tenets of modernism.

    3. The most important line in the poem was, “Till human voices wake us, we drown.” This line redonstes with me because Elliot’s diction is suggesting that the ideals in the poem are now applying to everyone, including myself, instead of just Prufrock. The "we" in that line changes the implications of the entire poem. The first lines of the poem speak of a shared experience, and a shared problem, but after those lines, the "you and I" disappears, and Prufrock's journey around the city, and through life, becomes very personal and isolated. It is easy to fall into thinking that this is someone else's set of problems. Returning to "we" at the end of the poem closes the circle and applies the pains and fears of the poem to everyone. This line reminds us that we are all Prufrock.

    4. Woody Allen’s film, Midnight in Paris, reflects the modernist values of alienation from society, disorientation and loneliness. The protagonist, Gil Pender, is a promoter of these modernist tenets. Gil’s midnight trips back in time are an example of his alienation from society and disorientation because he trading his current society every night for a society that he believes is better, thus separating himself from his current society. Gil also shows loneliness when he is caught up deciding between which girl he loves: Adriana or Inez. Because Gil can't give either girl all his love, he is caught up in the middle which gives him the feelings of loneliness.

    Where does the poem begin, and where does it end? Are these points at different times?

    1. I agree with what you say in number 3 that in a sense, we are all like Prufrock. We all struggle to take risks and make decisions because of our fear of how it will affect our future. So this leads me to ask, how do we make the "right" decision? And is living with regrets better than taking risks?

  11. T.S Eliot's poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” portrays modernism very well because it shows how lonely the narrator is after he has rushed through life. Throughout the poem the narrator speaks of time and its passing. He says things like, “In the room the woman come and go,” and “And indeed there will be time.” It makes him sound like an old man telling a long drawn out story to a young person. It has a certain air of nostalgia because he is talking from his current terrible situation. But he is telling the reader this long poem because he is so lonely that he is drawing this out as long as possible so he has more company. He continuously reassures the reader that there will be time to do all of the good and bad things you desire and that right now you just need to slow down and think about what is happening.
    The speaker in the poem seems like an aging nostalgic. It seems like this because he talks about the passage of time and how he and his hair are growing thin. He keeps saying “There will be time,” implying that he is easygoing and in no hurry. This reflects modernist ideals because he is reacting to the new hustle and bustle of the new urbanized world. All of the young men are out working their tails off in the banks and the factories while he is sitting back saying there will be time for that later but right now all I want to do is sit back and contemplate life with my lover.
    The line “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” stood out the most. This quote really struck home because it showed that life is fleeting and most of the time squandered. He said his life was measured out with coffee spoons because it shows how he thought of his life simply as small lumps of activity pre planned by him. He oversimplified it because he was scared. He used coffee spoons because coffee is the symbol for productivity. Everyday he probably woke up way too early to go to work until way too late. And throughout the day he will need more coffee to keep him going. He measures his life in coffee spoons because that is what he knows best. He is rushing himself all over the place all of the time and receiving nothing. All he is getting for his frantic rushing is more coffee.
    Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris, reflects a couple different modernist values throughout. First the idea of decadence and decay are evident. Gil sees Paris as the most beautiful and enjoyable city in the world while his fiance, other half to be, sees it as just another forced stop. Gil wants to walk around and see where the city can take him while Inez just wants to rush to all of the things they have to see while in Paris. He sees it as a decadent beauty while she sees it as a dead and decaying relic. The idea of rejection of history is also evident. The main characters are Hollywood people in Paris with Inez’s parents. Gil is a screen writer who is trying to be a writer. He has reservations about severing ties with his past city and profession. But at the end of the movie he completely rejects his history and decides to stay in Paris.

    Boil modernism down to its most basic form and connect Midnight in Paris and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

  12. 1. How is T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" a quintessential modernist poem? (Hence, what is Eliot criticizing through this narrator's voice?)
    The poem expresses many values of modernism, such as unfamiliarity and largeness-yet still alienation and isolation at the same time. It is set in a large city with “streets that follow like a tedious argument,” and is lonely, as it has “certain half-deserted streets.” A fog covers the cities, implying a sense of mystery- the same sense of mystery which modernist writers respond to as they transition into a more industrial world. The poem describes an unattractive, aging man experiencing anguish and despair in an unappealing city. These emotions and overall negative views lie at the base of modernist writing; they make up an anxious and powerless response to a quickly changing world and advance towards the future and towards death.

    2. Characterize the speaker in this poem. How does this characterization mirror the feelings of modernism?
    The narrator of the poem experiences anxiety, loneliness, depression, and an overall pessimistic attitude, which are all common aspects of modernist pieces. He is feeling a sense of decay as he grows old and hangs on to regret. This is seen in lines such as “I grow old… I grow old…” paired with his constant reassurance to himself and to the reader that “indeed there will be time.” Yet eventually, no time is left, as Prufrock has spent his life comforting himself with this thought and wasting his days on things that don’t matter. Prufrock realizes and agonizes over his mortality as death approaches. This decay as well as fear produced by his powerlessness in the face of death are also important elements of modernism. Prufrock contributes to his own isolation in his lack of action. “Time to turn back and descend the stair” is just one line conveying how he has often changed his mind before going to tell something extremely important to a woman. Much of the poem is spent displaying Prufrock’s hesitance and regret in not ever going through with his intentions. This adds to his loneliness and produces more anxiety and regret within him. This angst and isolation were usual experiences in modernist literature.

    3. In the poem, which line stood out to you the most? Explicate its meaning and tell me why it resonates with you.
    I believe a prominent line within the poem is near the very beginning: “Like a patient etherized upon a table.” I find it interesting that this disturbing image was used to describe the previous line, an “evening spread out against the sky.” This part immediately alters the tone of the poem. When first reading, one would observe the title and receive the glorious vision of the evening sky and assume the poem to be a romantic piece. However, the concept of the anesthetized patient dramatically contrasts this dreamy mood and alludes to a stranger, darker rest of the poem. I enjoyed this piece because it’s incredibly ironic in its contradictory moods. It is also very informative as it foreshadows the rest of the poem. The prospect of surgery conjures images of body parts, which Prufrock later uses as he states “I know the voices,” and “I know the eyes, and “I have known the arms already.” Line such as “to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet” and “time for all the works and days of hands.” This emphasis of body parts and small aspects of a person is consistent throughout the poem, as first mentioned in the beginning.

    4. How does Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, reflect modernist values and tenets?
    The protagonist of “Midnight in Paris” expresses discontent with the modernized world, just as the movement of modernism evokes senses of fear, loneliness, and despair. Gil’s alienation from the chaos and superficiality of present society is a prominent theme in modernist literature.

    In the poem, what is the meaning/purpose of the lines “In the room women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo”?
    What is the role of time and chronology in the poem?

  13. 1. T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock shows a lot of focus on how corrupt the present world is through the voice of the narrator. He talks as though his life almost has no sense of meaning, and that he wishes to escape it somehow. He hints at missing out on things that really matter, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” (Eliot 665) instead of focussing on moments that truly matter. There is a constant idea of being just slightly too far away from happiness in this poem, “I know the voices dying with a dying fall; Beneath the music from another room,” (Eliot 665). The music could be thought of as a sweet tone, but yet it is in another room that seems to be unreachable for the narrator. Happiness can be something that would drown out the bad, not take it away; even if happiness seems to be fake it is better than constant depression from your constant world. The narrator also switches between tones in the poem going back and forth between things that happened in the past and to his present day life. A longingness for how things used to be is represented, but a hope for the future is also expressed, it is just the present that seems to be resented by the narrator.
    2. The speaker in this poem seems to be one that is not incredibly pleased with his life. Gestures of sorrow, depression, anger, and resentfulness are all expressed throughout this poem, with a slight glimmer of hope. Happiness is rarely expressed when he talks about things he enjoyed from the past. Hope is demonstrated when he mentions what life could be if he was able to succeed in escaping, “Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky,” (Eliot 663). He does not think highly of himself and he believes that all of his happiness has been left in the past, “ I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker” (Eliot 665). The feelings the main character of this poem possesses fits exactly into the thought of modernism in saying that the present is sad. The present is not only sad though, it is dull and it is weak. Modernism expresses the thought people obtain in which they truly believed they would be happier living in a different time than the one of which they were given.
    3. My favorite line in the poem was when he talks about how going through all of this pain and sadness would somehow give something back to him, “And would it have been worth it after all,” (Eliot 666). He digresses into talking about the little things in life, and how every experience counts for something. He mentions all of the sunsets, novels, and teacups he has lived through and how each of them does mean something to him. He mentions how life should be measured in the little things, and nothing else, and I think that was an important message from this poem.
    4. One of the constant ideas throughout the film is the thought that one would be happier if they lived in the past, or a different time from their own. Gil and Adriana would often have discussions about how their present was dull and boring, and that their golden age was in the past. That was interesting, because the golden age to one was the dull and boring present to the other. Gil represents how he does not fit in with the modern times of the 1920’s every time he visits, and him and Adriana continue to do the same when they visit the 1890’s. Midnight in Paris describes modernism through the thought of estrangement, sadness, and happiness lying in the past.

    1. Will happiness ever be found in the present and not in the past or the future?
    2. Do most people embrace modernism and change or reject it?

  14. 1.) T.S. Eliot’s poem is a great reflection on some of the modernist tenets such as a need for order and fear/uncertainty for the future. The poem start out as if it is a real love poem about a guy and a girl but about a quarter of the way in we see the drastic change that was initially addressed by the line “There will be time to murder and create.” This statement also brings about the tenet of death we so often see throughout modernism. After this, we start to see the darker side of life and the uncertainty and sadness of modernism. We see our characteristic of complete uncertainty for what is to come when Eliot writes, “Do I dare disturb the universe? In a minute there is time for decision and revisions which a minute will reverse.” I interpreted this as an illustration to how men and women make decisions every minute of every day of their lives and those decisions affect not only them but everyone around them as well. This causes for an uncontrolled future of events that are just waiting to change a person’s life due to the actions of another. There are so many other characteristics such as sadness when he says “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” but the tenet that stands out the most is the uncertainty and fear the future holds.
    2.) The speaker of the poem seems to me as if he’s very curious and can’t help from holding his thoughts back and releasing them in a calm in controlled manner. This also gives off the feeling of modernism because of his need for order. We just feel as if he goes on rambling his words off and any thought that comes to his mind enters the paper. Some people see this as a good thing and like the somewhat uncontrollable madness but others find it overbearing. This proves that the depressing views of modernism are not only illustrated through the words put on the paper, but also by the tone and organization of the author / character.
    3.) One of my favorite lines from this poem is “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”. The question that is written on the side of the paper captures my thoughts exactly. The question is “Has a life that is measured in coffee spoons been very exciting or heroic?” In other words does measuring out someone’s life with coffee spoons mean that they live a great life or one that is dull. I think the reason the author put this line in was to show that so many people look to for their life to be measured out in great giant spoonfuls of events and occasions that shape their lives. Measuring your life by smaller spoonfuls means that you are aware of your surroundings in life and that it isn’t always about you. I also think this brings some humility into your character. Often times we try to make things as great as possible such as our actions and what we do. We usually don’t realize that it’s the little things that count.
    4.) The movie Midnight in Paris reflects on many modernist tenets such as agonized recollection of the past, fear of death, and alienation from society. The first tenet relates to the constant time travel in the past to find a golden age. The fear of death is displayed all throughout Hemingway. One of the lines that most stood out to me from him was that when you’re making love to someone you truly love, you forget about death and feel immortal for that time. Now the alienation from society shows whenever Gil was told to be quiet when he talked by his fiance or whenever he didn’t fit in at the moment. This led to solution of his time travel.

    1.) What is T.S. Eliot trying to say in the very last 4 lines of his poem on page 3 when he asks “Would it have been worth while”? What is he asking would be worth while in life?
    2.) Why does T.S. Eliot feel the need to create a sudden change in tone in his poem?

  15. 1) The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a quintessential modernist poem as it portrays many of modernist characteristics. The narrator is certainly afraid of many things, including women, the future and death. He is pessimistic and envisions a lonely sad life for himself on line 120 he says,
    I grow old…I grow old…
    and later describes how the mermaids, a metaphor for women, will never sing to him and he will remain forever lonely. The poem also has no real positive or conclusive ending. We never find out if Prufrock was able to find someone or if remained lonely forever.

    2) J. Alfred Prufrock is a frustrated middle age man. He is lonely and frankly Prufrock is sexually frustrated. He is afraid of women because he believes that every single one of them will look at his aging face and automatically reject him. This makes Prufrock indecisive and fearful as characterized in lines 32,
    And time yet for a hundred indecisions, and 37-40,
    And indeed there will be time
    To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
    Time to turn back and descend the stair,
    With the bald spot in the middle of my hair-
    This quote is very indicative of his both his indecisiveness and his self-consciousness in regards to his age. This indecisiveness is very characteristic of modernist literature. Furthermore, Prufrock embodies the modernist tenant of procrastination and the inability to act as he cannot seem to being himself to approach the women and put himself out there.

    3) In the poem the line that stands out most to me is line 52,
    I have measure out my life with coffee spoons;
    This line is important as it shows that Prufrock as something standard and constant in his life, and something that he can rely on to have every morning. It is something that he knows well and that is why he can rely on it. However, this line also implies Prufrock immense loneliness. He does not have much else in his life of importance and so he merely goes through the same routine every morning, essentially, “measuring out his life,”. The line also makes no mention of a wife or girlfriend. Many couples share breakfast with each other and this reinforces the idea the Prufrock is lonely and sexually frustrated.

    4)Midnight in Paris reflects quite a few of the modernist tenants that we have learned about, and a couple that are also present within Prufrock. First, the film’s theme is very closely tied with the tenant of an agonized recollection with the past. People from all eras in in history believe that their own time is dull and uncreative and look toward the past for escape. They are not hopeful for the future and some characters, such as Gil, feel more alone than ever in the time that they are in.

    Q) Why did T.S. Elliot choose to include an epigraph before his poem? Why choose this one?

  16. 1. In T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock”, there is the representation of a modernist view. Eliot describes a man who is struggling through the uncertainty in his life. The modernist Era was a time that was full of uncertainty and disorientation. Prufrock throughout the poem is experiencing these feelings and is constantly asking himself questions of what he should do in life. The author repeats many lines to show that sense of repetition or ordinary life. How people are stuck in the past and struggling with the present and unsure of the future. The character feels that the world he lives in is full of people who focus too much on the little things because they have nothing else. They feel alone and lost, but do not know how to change this. In the line, “Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions.”, Eliot shows the confusion and emptiness people feel. They are uncertain in their lives and choices.

    2. The character in this poem is very full of uncertainty and has lost the ability to create change. He lives his life ordinarily and searches for the answers to questions of his life. He notices the little things in his life but not because he enjoys them, but because he sees them as a repetition, something that happens daily. When he repeats the lines, “In the room the women come and go, Talking of Michelangelo.”, it shows his desperation in the fact that everything is the same and that by being occupied by the past nothing moves forward. People in the modernist era were very stuck in their ways and unable to want to make a difference. He says, “Do I dare, Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.” He’s talking about how with time he will change. He wonders if the rest of life will stay the same. He’s saying that he has time to change or do something different, but he’s caught up in the idea that with that same amount of time it could just go right back to the way it was in the first place. This shows the procrastination and inability to act that modernists suffered with.

    3. The line that stood out most to me was, “To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;” I took it to mean that there will come a time when you have to force yourself to be contained on the outside when really inside you are falling apart. You don’t want others to know what you are feeling or you don’t want them to worry or use it to their advantage so you have to pretend to feel something you don’t. When people are unsure of themselves or their lives, this would be an example of what they would strive for. Something with the means to conceive others and possibly even trick yourself. When meeting many people, they will each try to read you differently. This line describes how you will treat everyone the same with the same expressions and feelings and ideas that may not mean anything to you. This line resonated with me because I feel I can relate to it.

    4. Midnight in Paris reflects modernist values and tenants through the main character. Gil represents the modernist views in the way of how uncertain he is. He struggles with conflicting ideas and isn’t sure of what he wants out of life. Paris represents an important place for him, a place that gives him inspiration. He is caught between two worlds. One, in which he suppose to make decisions about his life, the other where he can enjoy and live in his idea of a fantasy world. He is stuck in the past, and confused about the present and future. He experiences things such as alienation and a bit of loneliness because he is stuck in a world of people who do not appreciate the little things and more amazing things in life as he sees them.

    1. What do you think the significance of calling the poem a love song? Do you think it represents something entirely different? A contradicting idea?

  17. 1. How is T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" a quintessential modernist poem? (Hence, what is Eliot criticizing through this narrator's voice?)
    T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a quintessential modernist poem is because his focus on historical literature. Eliot takes from the Bible and Shakespeare giving Prufrock a very educated and high class man. This education and outspoken mindset of men as well as women is the exact feeling given by modernism. Eliot makes Prufrock this same way by showing how his mind works in phrases like this in lines 91-94; “To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it towards some overwhelming question, To say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead...’”
    Passages like this one perfectly represent the mood of modernism and the abundant thirst for power. In this passage, Eliot uses Lazarus, who is a character from the Bible who is the only person, besides Jesus, who died and came back to life. I believe this is exactly the kind of feeling that Eliot wanted to show, because this is how men felt during that time period. Just like in the movie, Midnight in Paris, the character named Gil, kisses a girl from the 20’s and says how for a moment, while they were kissing, he felt immortal. This lust for eternal life is what lies at the heart of modernism, as well as T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

    2. Characterize the speaker in this poem. How does this characterization mirror the feelings of modernism?
    Once again this education and lust for power made so many people during this time want to live as long as possible, and have fun doing it. This is seen with women as well during the time as the term “flapper girl” emerges and women begin a hunger for power as well. I think these same ideas are seen in T.S. Eliot’s character, Prufrock, in this poem. This outgoing mentality gives him this confidence to say these beautiful words to a women he only thinks he loves. Eliot continues characterizing Prufrock by having him compare himself with Lazarus and Hamlet. Prufrock, wants power, and he thinks he can have it. This is how Eliot characterizes the character in his poem.

  18. 3. In the poem, which line stood out to you the most? Explicate its meaning and tell me why it resonates with you. “Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous- Almost, at times, the Fool.” The major part of this poem is Prufrock characterizing himself, and I believe that this excerpt from lines 116-119 gives the most in depth and accurate characterization of not only the narrator, but the attitude of Modernism as a whole. Just before these lines, the narrator explains how he is not Hamlet, from the Shakespeare play, yet he goes on, describing himself as a boastful man. This is the irony of Modernism. The people of this time are humble, yet they find any chance to make themselves seem like a great, revolutionary man or woman.These lines stood out to me the most because of the last word, “Fool.” Questions blazed through my mind, such as why would Eliot capitalize this one word, and why use the juxtaposition between Hamlet and this “Fool”? I think Eliot took a step back from his generation of Modernists and foreshadowed what others may see of the generation. I believe Eliot had the same realization that Gil had in the movie, Midnight in Paris, that every generation will look into the past and believe that the “Golden Age” had already passed. This realization is very true to me, personally, and I think this is true globally as well.

    4. How does Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, reflect modernist values and tenets?
    Woody Allen’s film, Midnight in Paris, is a parallel to modernist values and tenets. Not quite the whole movie, but the main character, Gil, shows many sign of a modernist. This first is reflected by his thirst of wanting to write a great story and escaping to Paris to do so. Just like many American modernist writers, Gil traveled from America to Paris to look for some artistic inspiration. Next, Gil’s attitude becomes very Modernistic when he finds himself in the 20’s relishing in, what he believes is the Golden Age. On a late night walk with his “past” lover, Gil talks about how he felt immortal for a moment. This moment was when Gil truly took on the personality of a Modernist writer. Gil’s character in Woody Allen’s film, Midnight in Paris, mirrors the views of modernism very accurately.

    Could these beliefs of modernism reemerge in society? Do they already exist today? Will we ever repeat an era’s beliefs or will we always create a new mind set?

  19. 1) Throughout his poem, Eliot criticizes our nature of being very materialistic as well as focusing on too many petite details. He doesn’t like the notion that everything is now becoming a competition; who has the best body, who has the most money, etc. It’s as if there is always someone waiting to judge every little thing you do, creating an excuse to say, “I’m better than you.” This is a very valid point as well because it is a huge issue as it causes disconnections between people. Why take a step backwards when you can take one forwards instead?

    2) Being the speaker of this poem, Prufrock adequately displays his personality through only these three pages of text. Through this text, he mainly displays how self-conscious he his, or how worried he is about how others will think of him. He shows this clearly through this quote: “Do I dare disturb the universe? In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse” (Eliot 45-49). He is too worried of the opinions of others that he does not say anything at all. This is a very impactful statement as a lot of people, including me, find ourselves guilty of the same thing. This modern world is developing so fast that often times we don’t care to make the decisions that could benefit our future.

    3) This poem was chalk-full of powerful statements that should resonate with everyone who reads it. For example, Eliot states, “Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair- (They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!’) My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin- (They will say: ‘But how his arms and legs are thin!’) Do I dare, Disturb the universe” (Eliot 39-46)? This really cultivates the idea that people are always judgmental, always looking for ways to critic others, only for the hope of seeing something bad and shouting from rooftops that they are better. The reason why this stands out so much to me is because of all the modern issues that revolve around this judging mentality such as bullying. Granted this is a very difficult thing to overlook as we are always in contact with others, comparing to ourselves.

    4) Woody Allen’s film, “Midnight In Paris,” does a fantastic job of reflecting the viewpoints of modernism. In the movie, Gil finds his life in the present too unsatisfactory as he thinks he has been there and done that in most things. Because of this, he develops a longing for a different time. In his case, he longed for the serenity of the 1920’s. Amongst his magical journey through time, he eventually realizes just how much people end up longing for a different time, whether it be past of future. It also makes him realize how fast life really is moving and how different it can become at any moment.

    Question: Why do we have this fear of other people’s judgment? How might we have acquired it?

  20. 1. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot is an ideal modernist poem because it illustrates fear, disorientation, uncertainty, and procrastination, which are some of the major characteristics of modernism. “And time for all the works and days of hands/That lift and drop a question on your plate;/Time for you and time for me,/And time for a hundred indecisions,/And for a hundred visions and revisions,” (Eliot 2). This quote demonstrates the procrastination aspect of modernism. The phrase “there will be time” is an allusion to the poem “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell. In Marvell’s poem, the coy mistress is pretending she won’t sleep with him, so he tells her if we had time, your games would be fine, but we don’t have time so let’s get to it. In Prufrock, Eliot has something world-changing to say, but he is procrastinating and saying “there will be time”, and he repeats it reminding the reader he will tell us later. Also in the poem, Prufrock is indecisive, confused, and uncertain. “And should I then presume?/And how should I begin?” (Eliot 3). This excerpt illustrates Prufrock’s uncertainty. He is unsure of how to voice his opinion, and he is also scared of the consequences of saying what he feels. One of the consequences Prufrock fears the most is death, “And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and/snicker,/and in short, I was afraid.” (Eliot 3). In the poem, the “eternal Footman” refers to death. The footman, or death, is sinister when he laughs and holds Prufrock’s coat, which shows he is preparing for his death. Prufrock fears death, which is another characteristic of modernism. T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” displays the common themes of modernism like disorientation, uncertainty, procrastination, and fear of death.

    2. The speaker in this poem, Prufrock, is lost, fearful, and self-conscious man. The quote, “I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,” provides us with the image of a flickering flame or light, representing Prufrock’s greatness. A flickering flame is not a steady, constant, stable light, but more off-and-on. Prufrock describes how his greatness is sporadic, which shows his low self-esteem because only sometimes does he view himself as great. The speaker mirrors the feelings of modernism because modernism was chaotic and sporadic, and emphasized social destruction and breakdown.

    3. The line, “Would it have been worth while”, remains embedded in my mind. It is a short and simple line, but to me, it holds a lot of meaning. It is something we as humans involuntarily ask ourselves everyday. After we make a decision, we continue to let the choice eat at us. Was it the right choice? What would our life look like if we chose a different path? People say they want to live with no regrets, but that is nothing more than an unrealistic fantasy. Every option is inflated in our minds to become life-or-death situations. Sometimes, I think we need to take a step back, look at the whole picture, and see how insignificant some of our decisions are. The quote, “Would it have been worth while”, leads me to question the meaning of life. Is it more important to take risks for what we love, even if it jeopardizes everything? Or should we live a sufficient life by tip-toeing cautiously around every decision?

    4. In Woody Allen’s film, Midnight In Paris, the story reflects the modernist view that life, and the present, are dissatisfying. People desire to escape their era, or their circumstances, to a “golden age”. The main character, Gil, discovers that people believe in different golden ages. Gil falls in love with Paris and The Roaring Twenties, while his lover, Adriana, wishes she was in Paris during Le Belle Époch. People become so unhappy with their life and “decaying” civilization that they experience severe nostalgia. This reflects the modernist tenet of possessing an agonized recollection of the past.

    1. Why do modernists wish to return to the past instead of fast forward to the future?

  21. 1. Through the narrator, Eliot criticizes the modern world and represents the inability to live a meaningful life. The speaker lives in a big, dirty city, and is afraid of living. He lives day after day with no change, and because of this he “knows” everything around him. He know the days, the eyes, the voices, and the arms. Prufrock is familiar with these things from past experiences, but he knows them from the repetition day in and day out. He says, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” to show that this is what his life consists of. There is not much variation to his days or nights. Eliot also uses Prufrock to symbolize obstructed desires and discontent. At the beginning of the poem he talks about an “overwhelming question”, but quickly dismisses the idea and procrastinates throughout the rest of the poem, reminding himself that there will be more time. Eliot illuminates that if you put something off once, you will likely put it off forever.

    2. In Eliot’s poem, the speaker is overall pessimistic. He is lonely, indecisive, and uncertain of the future. Prufrock mirrors many of the feelings of modernism. He starts by taking us through the streets of a dirty city that is seemingly new industrialized. Next, he brings in the idea of procrastination, and keeps this theme throughout the rest of the poem. He talks about fear of rejection and of the future. Prufrock is not sure what will become of him, but as he ages, he realizes that death is upon him. All of these characterizations are modernist themes that are expressed in the poem.

    3. The line that stood out to me the most is, “In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse” (lines 47-48). In two lines, Eliot illuminates the idea of how quickly things can change, but also how uncertain the future can be. Everything can change in a minute, but it can be reversed just as quickly. This line also reiterates Prufrock’s fixation with time. This fixation brings out his inner consciousness and causes him to really concentrate on what he has time for and what is important.
    (I wasn’t here for Midnight in Paris)

    Q. What could Prufrock’s question be?
    Is Prufrock already in hell, or does he just lead a hellish life?

  22. 1. The narrator of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, written by T. S. Elliot, is criticizing himself based on the thoughts of the people around him. The narrator, later called Prufrock, is wanting to disturb the universe and the social structure of it, but he did not dare because of what the people around him would have thought. Lines 37 - 46 describe this nearly precisely, “ And indeed there will be time to wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’ Time to turn back and descend the stair, with a bald spot in the middle of my hair -- (They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!’) My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, my necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin -- (They will say: ‘But how his arms and legs are thin!’) Do I dare disturb the universe?” These lines indicate that Prufrock wants to do something that will at least change his life, and possibly, on a much greater scale, change the universe. He will not dare to do it though because his peers are holding him back with harsh comments about how his arms are long and how his hair is thinning, so he is going back on his original plan of what to do to change and decides against it because he does not think that he can.

    2. The speaker of this poem, Prufrock, is the kind of man who does not think he is worth anything and does not think he has any potential to do anything with his life. He tries to be happy with himself when he is around people, but on the inside he puts himself down because the people that surround him do that. Throughout the poem, Prufrock questions himself, such as on line 38, “‘Do I dare?’” and line 61, “And how should I presume?”. Simply the fact that Prufrock questions his actions is enough to make the reader believe that he has problems with his self confidence, but when you actually look at the words in the question, you see that Prufrock’s issues go deep into his mind. When you look at these questions, you see that Prufrock is afraid to do the things that he wishes he could accomplish. This fear, along with the fact that he feels alienated from the people around him, leads us to believe that Prufrock is mirroring modernist ideals and other modernist thoughts.

    3. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is filled to the brim with lines and sentences that speak to the reader, but to me line 86, “And in short, I was afraid.” was the one that stuck out the most. This is not the longest line in the entire poem, but in terms of meaning, it is one of best in it. Because this line is so short, it leaves the reader with a sense to think about how it would apply to themselves, and how else it would be applicable to the world. Prufrock brought on this set of words to shortly explain his predicament, and by doing so shortly shows us that he knows exactly what is wrong with himself, but it also shows us that he is doing nothing to fix it. This reveals that there is an unspoken truth between humans that underneath everyone, they are afraid and do not want to mess anything up in the world.

    4. Woody Allen's film, "Midnight in Paris" reflects modernist values specifically through the character Gil Pender, portrayed by Owen Wilson. Gil is a writer and is engaged to be married, bur his life is full of modernist tenets, such as the fact that Gil loves the past so much that he was actually transported to the time he dreamed of. That is one of many different values of modernism, the agonized thoughts of the past. More values are the fear of death (which Gil just so happens to be afraid of), despair amd sorrow. Gil wants to be in love, and when he thought he found his match in life, he had to break up with her because they were not right for one another. The same thing happened with Adrianna, a woman Gil met in the Twenties; he had to not see Adrianna anymore because she had a different goal in her life than what Gil wanted.


    1) Is modernism a good way to live your life? Meaning is it the best idea for humanity to look to its past for beauty and ideas as opposed to its future?

  23. 1. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” showcases many Modern tenets, shedding light on some of the darkest aspects of the movement. Eliot places a large emphasis on a need for order but at the same time there is a big focus on chaos. One of the best examples of this is in the fourteenth stanza where Prufrock says, “Would it have been worth while, to have bitten off the matter with a smile, to have squeezed the universe into a ball, to roll it towards some overwhelming question…” (Eliot 90-93). The need for order here is shown in the past tense, he didn’t do it so he had that order, but he still has the ‘what ifs,’ which lead him to chaos. He wonders if he should have smiled and been happier or tried to make the universe a small place so he could understand it better. Another example of a tenant is the emphasis on decadence and decay shown many times with various things, some oyster shells that were once glamorous but decay into shells. Or the tea and cakes and ices turning to crisis and weeping. The decadence, especially in this poem, is a powerful and potent mask for the decay, but it is still lurking beneath the beautiful surface and comes out only when, possibly, least appropriate, needed, or wanted.

    2. J. Alfred Prufrock is a mess. He is, in simpler terms, in his midlife crisis. He doesn’t know what he wants to be or who he is making him lost, fearful and agonizing over the lost past, all in a busy, complicated world that no man has ever really understood. Prufrock is alone even in this busy world and he is extremely nostalgic for the life that he used to have, but more over he simply can not seem to make himself change any of that, resulting in the complete mess he has found himself in. This all connects back to the values of Modern Literature where the people can not seem to connect with each other or get rid of their fear.

    3. Line 27: “To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet...” Sticks out to me first because of the repetition. Then I read it again and am intrigued by what such a vague and confusing question could mean. Then I think about it. Faces, faces are just the outside, they don’t show any insight into the thoughts of the person. Then there is the pretending. Pretending that you like a person, which would require you to make a face to see the faces. So basically this is all one mess, where everyone has a face up, a pretence, making all person to person interactions fake, and they can only ever be taken at face value.

    4. The nostalgia and sense of being completely lost are big modernist views, and both are repeated themes in the film. But there are many other tenets shown as well, such as decadence and decay, portrayed by the mother-in-law and Gil, or a need for order with a heavy emphasis on chaos this time portrayed solely by Gil and his being a rational man but always wanting to do the irrational thing.

    How would T. S. Eliot and J. Alfred Prufrock react to “Midnight in Paris” and the ideas presented in the film?

  24. 1. How is T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" a quintessential
    modernist poem? (Hence, what is Eliot criticizing through this narrator's voice?)

    The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock stands as a representation of the primary ideals that were incarnated by the Modernists. T.S Eliot expresses his hopelessness and despair of the modern world by implementing his character, Prufrock, to be an individual who does not create much social change. Prufrock does not act, or cause any change, but more so speaks of inner self and consciousness. This poem is a succession of his inner thoughts regarding the disenchantment in society. Prufrock asks the question “Do I dare Disturb the universe?”, unveiling his lack of confidence for the progression of mankind. The tone of this quotation is rather depressing, and is as if Prufrock himself is dissatisfied with the world, but does not believe that it can be changed. Modernism emphasizes this facet as it had the common belief of civilization in a period of social collapse. Modernists, like T.S Eliot believed that the world was in many ways in shambles, and a single individual alone could not rebuild what had fallen apart.

    2. Characterize the speaker in this poem. How does this characterization mirror the feelings of modernism?

    Modernism literature reflects the sense of isolation, lack of spirituality, loss, and disorientation of the post World War I era. In the The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the primary character Prufrock essentially embodies the modernist era. His love song stands as the motto of the literary work of the time it is set in. Prufrock himself creates an easily misinterpreted message that later develops into a deep rooted conflict amongst himself and the reader. Throughout the poem, he continues to arise a question, yet fails to reveal what it is. Prufrock goes back and forth displaying the question and contemplates among himself, hiding it, yet through a manner that the reader wants to know more. Prufrock is alert throughout the poem, however does not feel inclined to act and ask the question, he simply stands in confusion as he equivocates his feelings. He does however question his role in mankind, and questions whether he should, or should not unveil the underlying question that has caused the reader to feel lost in terms of what Prufrock is actually trying to say. This is exactly what the modernist movement manifests. Whatever the question might be, there is a sense of uncertainty, loss, and pessimistic view towards mankind. Modernists don’t really know what the world has come to, yet are not sure whether the pieces are big enough to put back together. The poem is not necessarily supposed to answer the question, or make completely understandable sense, but more so intended to be interpreted to understand the dilemma of the modernists. The Modernist movement lacked action, which is why it is referred to as “spiritually empty”. Many modernist literary works stands on a fine line between what is reality and what is pure imagination, also contributing to the factor of confusion. This feeling of being “stuck” is what trapped many modernists to feelings as if they were in a self created hell, similar to that of Prufrock. This concept of time and space in a dispute amongst the past, present and future is what lies the overwhelming question of the modern era to be a self realization.

  25. 3. In the poem, which line stood out to you the most? Explicate its meaning and tell me why it resonates with you.

    Throughout the course of the poem, one of the excerpts that truly resonated with me was the following quotation: “Time for you and time for me, and time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea.” This quotation unveils the modernist perspective regarding unavoidable change and uncertainty in time. On one hand, Prufrock discusses of all the time he has to create social progression, however, he also speaks of all the revisions, indecisions and visions that in some sense stand in the way of action. It is as if he has a conscious longing to act, but it is time and social failure that stops him. Prufrock in a sense has an internal conflict, one that can be sensed through the insecurity in his attitude that is displayed through this quotation. Time plays an essential role in modernism, as it in many ways stands to destroy civilization, yet also supports it with its longing for the past. This contradictory role of time and space is what leads many to confusion in understanding modernism. This quotation, in my opinion, reveals how the modernists were stuck on all of the facets that was wrong with society that their visions and revisions were so entangled that they felt it was a sort of unavoidable change.

    4. How does Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, reflect modernist values and tenets?

    Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris reflects modernist values and tenets through the use of its storyline centered around the life of Gil. Gil is a man who lives in the 21st century, however has a longing to live in the “Golden Age” of the 20’s. In his present, he does not have a sense of belonging, and struggles in terms of his career, relationships, and common characteristics with others. This feeling of isolation and loneliness is what manifests the modernist era. It is Gil’s longing to go back to the past that drives the storyline of this film and essentially creates an understanding of modernism for the average individual today. Gil’s life in the present day is filled with uncertainty and despair for not only himself, but mankind. It is Gil’s feeling of displacement and confusion between his imagination and social reality that represents the modernist ideals of a dissatisfaction for their time.

    B. What is the overwhelming question? Has Prufrock indirectly stated it? Is it “Do I dare disturb the universe”? What held the modernists back? What did they fear?

  26. 1. T.S. Eliot uses many elements from the modernist view. He includes the major characteristics from the modernist point of view. Eliot modernizes the poem by focusing on Prufrock’s isolation and interiority. Prufrock is then left to reflect on his life. Eliot also includes themes and characteristics such as an agonizing look back at the past, fearing death and his alienation from society and his loneliness. He seems to criticize the social breakdown from life. He says that when the world intrudes one’s life of wanting to feel alone, when “human voices wake us,” the dream is shattered, “and we drown.” Eliot also shows the destructive, impersonal forces of the modern world.
    2. Prufrock, the speaker in this poem seems to have many views that mirror the feelings of modernism. At the beginning of the poem, Prufrock feels as if he is the looking back at a past that seemed better than his current standing. He starts to fear that as time wears on, he is not able to bring himself to ask his question. He seems to fear the appearance of death and the possibility of growing older. He feels his procrastination growing and his inability to act, causing him to lag behind in his thoughts. His thoughts about the past are the things causing him to worry about the future and its uncertainty. He speaks at the end as having being woken by “human voices...and we drown.” Eliot shows here that Prufrock is thinking about everything, past, present and future in a place similar to the dreaming about lingering “in the chambers of the sea.” But in the end is woken by the life going on now, and how he drowns in the current times.

    3. My favorite part of the poem was, “I have measure out my life with coffee spoons;”
    This line shows that Prufrock has something standard and constant in his life, and something that he does every morning. He drank a lot of coffee in his life, and he lives his life cup to cup having little care or knowledge for the rest of the world or other people. He implies a loneliness in his life. I also can relate a little to his loneliness.

    4. Midnight in Paris and Prufrock really fit well together. Gil related to Prufrock in some ways. They both thought of the past as better than the present. They also think that the future could not possibly be better than the past. In the twenties, they seemed more creative than the people in the present and Gil seemed to enjoy the idea of chaos created by each night of partying. All they seemed to care about, like Prufrock did, was their next cup of coffee or whether their arms were too thin. Gil, escapes a tragic end because he realizes that one must face their present to fully live.

    How does the setting create the idea of modernism in both works?

  27. 1) “The Love Song of J. ALfred Prufrock,” is a great example a modernist poem because it explores many aspect and beliefs of that time. Proof of modernism in the poem is found in the setting. The speaker is found in a city which helps to convey the way people felt at that time, that cities were the future and they shunned rural areas. Aspects of modernism are also shown through the form of the poem. Prufrock goes in and out of consciousness, he let’s his ideas flow freely just as modernism suggests. An example of this is found when he seemingly changes topic with a wild and confused manner, “To wonder, ‘Do i dare?’ and , ‘Do I dare?’ Time to turn back and descend the stair, with a bald spot in the middle of my hair-” (Eliot). His phrases are choppy and chaotic just like the time period, no one wanted to be bored they just wanted excitement and that is shown through Eliot's poem.

    2)The speaker in this poem is portrayed as a nervous man who fears rejection and getting older. His characterization is shown through uncertainty and lack of confidence, “I grow old...I grow old… I shall wear the bottom of my pants rolled. Shall I part my hair behind” (Eliot). Through the speaker Eliot shows the fear of getting older and the fear of the future. This directly relates to modernism tenants because living in this time meant be young and wild yet certain of yourself. The speakers fear of losing this youth is like a fear of not being a true part of the time period.

    3) It seemed to me that the most important line of the poem was when the speaker says, “Till human voices wake us, and we drown,” (Eliot). This is an important ending to the poem because it shows how the speaker lost his meaning. In the beginning he was very focused on the all important question but his thoughts began to stray and he wasn't focusing on what was important anymore. At the end of the poem the “human voices” who woke the people is a metaphor for reality. The speaker is woken by reality and realizes he never did ask the question or reach his goal. By that time it was too late.

    4) Midnight In Paris reflects modernism tenants through Gil. Gil feels alone and out of place in modern Paris, yet through the chaos and excitement of “the golden age” he finds himself and gains confidence. In modern Paris Gil fears the truth and making mistakes, while in Paris during the 20’s Gil is up for anything and accepts himself and those around him. Midnight In Paris also reveals the idea that modernists wanted to be living in a different time, and they were pessimistic about the future.

    Question: Is it better to forget the past and focus solely on the present, or to use the past as an escape from the present?

  28. 1. How is T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" a quintessential modernist poem? (Hence, what is Eliot criticizing through this narrator's voice?)

    The “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is the quintessential modernist poem because it embodies many of the motifs characteristic of modernism. It criticizes the unglamourous and sullied world around the narrator when he speaks of, “certain half deserted streets,...of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels and sawdust restaurants with oyster shells.” These lines allude to the lackluster of modern civilization and the inherent bleakness of the world around Prufrock. Also, this poem demonstrated elements of social awkwardness and distance despite being among so many people. Elliot depicts this disconnection of people in society. All the actions that they make and the words that they say are insincere and contrived like the masks they put on the the presence of other false personalities.The phrase, “To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet,” highlights the ingenuity and the social awkwardness of modern society.

    2. Characterize the speaker in this poem. How does this characterization mirror the feelings of modernism?

    The speaker in this poem is Alfred Prufrock who appears to be a middle aged man who reveals this when saying, “with a bald spot in the middle of my hair.” This man grapples with the pressures and failures of the present world around him. The most precedent characteristic of Prufrock is his insecurity. He is utterly uncomfortable and unsure in the world he lives. This insecurity is centered around women in particular and he often questions his actions when approaching women.He often says, “In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo.” These women intimidate him and he justifies his inability to communicate by assuring himself that, “Indeed there will be time to wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”” Throughout this entire poem, Prufrock is agonizing over the decisions he made in the past. These decisions like, “Time to turn around and descend the stair,” demonstrates the idea of procrastination in achieving an ultimate goal. He believes that there will be time later for him to take a chance, but he is simply indulging his fear and insecurity.

  29. 3. In the poem, which line stood out to you the most? Explicate its meaning and tell me why it resonates with you.

    The most influential line in my opinion was “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons”. This resonated with me because I believe life is such and complicated and complex things, that it's ironic that someone should say that it could be measure with something as simple as coffee spoons. This line is depressing because it chalks up the summary of a person's life to the significance of a mere coffee spoons. I believe life cannot be measured especially not by something as diminutive as a coffee spoon.

    4. How does Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, reflect modernist values and tenets?

    Midnight in Paris also reflects the modernist value and tenenets. Allen expresses these through a Prufrock
    like character Gil. Like Prufrock, Gil feels uncomfortable in the world he lives in. He has difficulty expressing himself to others with his words, which related to the tenet of miscommunication or lack there of. Also, Gil continually expresses his desire to live in the past because he finds the present unsatisfying and false. Allen further demonstrates modernism when he describes the the romantic notions of people of the past to want to live either further in the past. In doing this, he emphasizes the inevitable disdain for the present that is a key value in modernism. These disenchanted people dull their suffering in the present by drinking,partying, or like Gil and the other writers, criticizing the world through their books. They depict the social and moral disassociation of society when faced with the despair for the present and the future.When you are finished, please ask a question that would spark some conversation about either the poem or the movie or the synthesis between them.

  30. 1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot was an imperative modernist poem because of the different themes it displayed, and the undeniably modernist tone it had. T.S. Eliot shows certain modernist themes including war, cities, boredom, and fear. Many people at the time questioned the poem at first, because they didn’t understand what he meant or why he was afraid, and they didn’t agree with what he said. But, overtime these ideas and themes he advertised became the foundation for modernist texts. T.S. Eliot is afraid of death in this poem, and because his lack of activity he becomes bored, “And indeed there will be time,” because he knows that he won’t be doing anything soon, he just has lots of thoughts about what he could be doing. He also hints at the idea of his fear, “And in short, I was afraid,” because he thinks of all these extravagant things that he can do, and all the time he has to do them, but he never does. He is trapped in his own thoughts. Another theme he brings up is the idea of that there are no more distant towns and villages, the place to live now is in the city, “For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, rubbing its back upon the window panes;” he makes it clear with his imagery and setting that he longs for cities and nights out on the town. Overall, T.S. Eliot was really a modernist pioneer with his sad, depressed tone, because he isn’t satisfied in the life he is living, and he wants more, but he is just too afraid to go and get it.

    2. The speaker in the poem, J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot is very unsatisfied with the life he is living. He understands technological change and wants to be apart of it, but he is scared for what the future has to hold. He is still eager to pursue new things to some extent, but he is afraid of doing them out of fear of death, and that is what makes his life so boring, and makes him want to do more. There is also a longing in his voice for civilization to go back to the way it was because even though all of the new cities are exciting, he is scared and lost in the new ways people are doing things, and that concerns him.

  31. 3. My favorite line from this poem is on the third page halfway down, “Asleep...tired...or it malingers.” At first, it stuck out to me because I didn't know what a malinger was, but looking on the side of the paper, it explains that it is a person faking an illness (in order to skip work, school, etc.). So, I think this line means that he is trying to convince himself that he is either tired or ill, because he is fearful to go out and do new things. But, he understands that he is just afraid, he cannot mentally handle the new city life. He has realization, and he finally accepts that he is his own obstacle, while displaying the theme fear.

    4. The movie, Midnight in Paris, definitely shows a lot of modernist values through all of the different characters spread out over different time periods. Gil, the main character is not satisfied with his life, he is continually longing for a better time and a better place, which for him is the 1920s in Paris, France. All he wants to do is live in this city, but because his fiance doesn’t want to live in Paris he is stuck in a predicament, choose the place or the girl. Initially it seems like he is going to move back to the states and get married, because he is too scared to stay and lose her, yet another modernist theme. He finds a way to go back in time and meet people like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso, which satisfies his need for the past temporarily, however he starts to realize that wherever you are you will never be satisfied, whether that means you want to go back in the past even farther, or you still can’t find the guts to do what everyone else is doing, because you are scared. Overall, this movie is really interesting because it takes an new approach to modernism, while displaying the same dreary themes.

    What makes Gil come to the conclusion that, “we will never be satisfied, because life isn’t all that satisfying,”? Do you think most modernists like T.S. Eliot also eventually came to a similar conclusion? Why?