T. S. Eliot’s “Lovesong of J Alfred Pufrock” Analysis

Love has been a hot topic in poetry for a long time, being a common topic in poems and even used by names as big as William Shakespeare himself. T.S. Eliot, a British poet from the early 1900s, is no exception to this. In his poem, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, the use of certain language and details throughout the stanzas of the poem helps indicate that the “You and I” mentioned at the beginning refers to Prufrock and a woman.

To start, Eliot uses the phrase “In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo” (Eliot lines 13-14 and lines 35-36) twice. The repetition of this phrase shows that women are on Prufrock’s mind, and it is something that he feels concerned over and pays attention to. Prufrock also notes that these women are talking about Michelangelo, which implies that they are talking about somebody who is very popular and prestigious: something that Prufrock is unlikely to be able to live up to. After the first time, this phrase is said in lines 13-14, Prufrock begins to talk about a yellow fog and smoke. The fact that the fog and smoke are yellow can be taken as an archetype for friendship, which may suggest that after hearing about Michelangelo, or somebody who Prufrock could never be better than, Prufrock feels that he may be seen as a friend rather than a lover, showing his loss in confidence. This same sense of lack of confidence can be seen after the second time this phrase is said in lines 35-36, where Prufrock begins to question himself about whether he should propose to this woman he is talking to, saying “‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’” (Line 38). This questioning of himself represents how he feels that he may not be good enough for any woman, especially compared to the Michelangelo that these women seem to talk about. This observation followed by the loss of confidence in Prufrock implies that Prufrock refers to a woman in the phrase “you and I” through the fact that women talking about Michelangelo seems to have a genuine emotional impact on Prufrock. 

Next, Prufrock acknowledges “lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows” (Eliot line 72). Lonely men in shirt-sleeves has a very unromantic implication to it, and this unromantic way of life seems unappealing to Prufrock. This unappeal is supported by the two lines following it, stating how Prufrock feels that he “should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of the silent seas” (Eliot lines 73-74). These lines represent how Prufrock has hit a low point in life, as the floors of the sea are some of the lowest points on Earth. Such highlights how Prufrock feels very lonely and longs for some form of a romantic relationship, as the sight of the lonely men makes him feel as if he has hit rock bottom. This continues the idea that the phrase “you and I” talks about Prufrock and a woman, as a woman is the only thing that could fill this romantic void that Prufrock is experiencing.

In addition, the image of the mermaids singing in line 126 can show how Prufrock’s dream of a romantic relationship and a change in life is killed. For most, the image of a mermaid singing has a feminine aspect to it, as mermaids are typically female figures. In the line following when mermaids are first introduced, Prufrock notes “I do not think that they will sing to me” (Eliot line 127). Such implies that women do not seem to notice the presence of Prufrock and that he is of no interest to them. This observation, similar to the women talking of Michelangelo, seems to have a negative emotional effect on Prufrock, as in the last line of the poem, Prufrock says “Till human voices wake us, and we drown” (Eliot line 133), which essentially says that Prufrock’s dream has been killed. A cause-and-effect relationship is established here, where the mermaids not singing to Prufrock leads to his dream being killed. Because of this, it can be inferred that the absence of interaction with women in his life leads to Prufrock feeling meaningless and having his dream killed, implying how the “you” mentioned at the beginning refers to a woman. 

Prufrock is most likely to be referring to a woman with the use of the word “you” at the beginning of the poem due to the many hints of negative emotions caused by issues regarding women that are seen in the poem. These negative emotions could all be resolved by a drastic change in Prufrock’s life, which could include engaging in a romantic relationship or marriage with a woman. 

Significance behind the Ending of Lady or the Tiger

In 9th grade, I read Frank Stockton’s short story The Lady, or the Tiger? because it was an assignment for English class. The story leaves off with a cliffhanger with two possible outcomes and whatever outcome shows a theme that is inherent in our lives.

From what I remember about the story, the princess was caught being in love with a man who sincerely loves her. However, he has no royal blood, which infuriated her father, the semi-barbaric king. He puts the man through a trial where he would have to choose one of two doors in front of him. One of the doors holds a beautiful lady in which he would have to marry the exact moment he chooses the door, a lady that lives at the palace and the princess hates. The other holds a tiger that has been starved and is looking for a hefty meal. A large audience gathered to witness the man’s fate, the princess forced to watch from her throne above. But she knows exactly what is in which door through bribery. The man she loves turned to her and after some moments of thinking, she flickers her hand to a direction, signalling a door. The man confidently walks up to that door but in the end, it is up to the reader to know which door he actually went into.

But of course the princess told the man to go to the door that held the lady, right? This is the man that she loves and someone she genuinely cared about. The man will be forced to marry this woman she doesn’t like and he won’t love the woman as much as he loves her. But circumstances of that situation would lead to her seeing her lover with another woman at all times. Not only would he be with woman she hates, they would both see each other all the time with the knowledge of the marriage between them. They are in love with each other and there was no doubt about that but they can’t be together because it was forbidden. They are so close to each other, yet so far. Perhaps, he may fall in love with the woman he was tied to be with because all of the private time they have together.

But even with those consequences, she will still rather see her lover everyday than see him eaten alive by a tiger, right? If she signalled for him to be eaten by the tiger, she would be stuck with the knowledge that his death was her doing. The guilt will consume her, she killed the man she loved, and perhaps will turn her into a hollowed version of herself before the trial took place. Though that may be true, the king was said to have semi-barbaric traits. Symbolically, could those traits have passed down to his daughter? Perhaps, she is selfish and she wants all of the man’s love only for her. Perhaps the tiger appealed more to the princess because it ends a cycle of life. Sure, this man is one that she loves but the thought of violence could attract her even more because of her implied barbarism. She has this man’s fate wrapped around his finger and whatever she choose, he will go to confidently because he knows her and trusts her decision, no matter what it is.

There are many themes in this story that could be applied to reality but what I would like to discuss is the theme of fate. The king in his story put this man on trial but even he doesn’t know what is in each door and he doesn’t care what this man gets because in one way or another, it is his punishment. My 9th English teacher called him a symbol of god or the universe in a way, a person who doesn’t care about our meager lives until we have done something that not only affect them but angers them. Ultimately, our fate is decided by them but our will is not. It is decided by ourselves which door we choose to go to, whether we listen to the princess we love on which door to go to or not. The man knows all about his lover’s nature and yet chooses to go into the door she instructs him to go to. He didn’t choose to be on trial but he is going to choose what door he goes into. He is choosing the way he wants the rest of his life to go, though he was put into this predicament that the universe/God/someone else had put him into. We are put into hard situations all the time by someone else but ultimately, it is in our hands the way we decide how we must deal with it. Do we ignore it? Do we push through its obstacles? Do we give up? Whatever occurs next would be our decision, whether we would want to accredit ourselves with this information or not.

(I can’t claim credit for most of the information presented; it came from the knowledge of my 9th English teacher.)

-Saanvi V.

Are Jim and Della from “The Gift of the Magi” richer before or after their gift exchange?

Belonging to the genre of dramatic irony, the short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O’Henry narrates the tale of Della and Jim, who have become richer in affection after their gift exchange. The protagonists choose to give up their most valuable belongings with the intentions to give the perfect gifts to each other, which have been rendered useless. However, Della and Jim gain something more valuable in their relationship than either of their possessions.

When she wants to make more money to buy a nice gift for her husband, Della asks, “‘Will you buy my hair?’” (3). Because Della is willing to give up her most precious possession, the immense love she feels for her husband is depicted. Furthermore, Della’s feelings are mutual as Jim ends up selling his cherished watch to buy combs for Della.

At first glance, the exchange seems to be inconsequential since the gifts are now unusable, but a shift in the conflict is noted when “Of all who give gifts, these two were the most wise. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the most wise” (4). By sacrificing their most precious belongings, Jim and Della prove to each other that they have deep affection for one another, which is why they are referred to as the magi. There is no materialistic gift that would have such great meaning as the gifts of Della and Jim; therefore, they are much richer than they were before the gift exchange.

-Ayati M.

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby (Vintage Classics): Fitzgerald, F. Scott, Grisham, John:  9780593312919: Amazon.com: Books

In the decade after the end of the Great War, the world was in shambles. Though relatively untouched by the devastation, America, along with the rest of the world, experienced a reactionary period against the brutal war, during which materialism flourished alongside the economy. The result was an era known as the Roaring Twenties, a cultural revolution that emphasised entertainment rather than functionality.

However, this veneer of excitement was underscored by the most important idea of the time – the American dream, the idea that all people have equal opportunities in life. Unfortunately, as people soon realised, the American dream was just that – a dream. The following disillusionment with society and life was reflected in the modernist works of the time, arguably the most significant of which was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Nick Carraway, a young man from Chicago, moves to the “new-money” district of West Egg in New York, hoping to become a bondsman. Instead, he finds himself reconnecting with his “old-money” cousins in East Egg, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, as well as befriending the mysterious and even wealthier Jay Gatsby. The tale of Gatsby’s fabulous parties on the Long Island Sound is underscored by Gatsby’s obsession with his old love, who turns out to be Daisy Buchanan. Over the course of the novel, Gatsby uses Nick to reconnect with Daisy, but it is when Gatsby is closer than ever to achieving his dream that it is all torn away from him, and Fitzgerald’s message of the unattainability of the American dream shines through. 

This theme appears in various other characters as well, most notably in George and Myrtle Wilson. George, a destitute auto shop owner, dreams of running a successful business and of having a woman who loves him. He is foiled in the former because though he dreams of selling Tom’s blue coupé, Tom’s reluctance to sell it to him leaves him despairing for the future. He is also let down in the latter, considering that his wife, Myrtle, is Tom’s mistress. She, in turn, dreams of marrying Tom and therefore ascending to the upper class, but her hopes are fatally crushed in the novel’s chilling climax.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald writes his characters to each reflect a different section of society that aspires to achieve the American dream, ultimately concluding that no such thing exists or is attainable. Interestingly, the novel’s focus on the detrimental effects of materialistic culture and the relentless pursuit of the American dream lends itself to foreshadowing the Great Depression, which only proves Fitzgerald’s claim – the American dream is dead.

– Mahak M.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Schema Theory

A schema is a pattern of memory that is heavily influenced by pre-clustered ideas, and is known as the framework that organizes social information. Schemas are often used to interpret and learn information, as we are more likely to comprehend what we learn if it matches our schema. For example, if we always know that grass is green, then we will be able to comprehend the fact that the grass in Texas is also green much better than the (not-so-true) fact that the grass in New Mexico is purple: because purple grass does not match our schema of grass.

Another thing schema causes is stereotypes, or the idea that certain groups will have certain traits in common. This is because our schema of the particular group that we envision has been influenced by social/cultural norms. However, the most notable and fascinating thing that schema does is the distortion of memory. In the 1980s, psychologists Brewer and Treyens conducted an experiment, where participants were asked to wait in a waiting room that resembled an office (these participants were under the impression that they were waiting for an experiment, when in reality, the waiting room was the experiment). After a brief period of time in the waiting room, the participants were asked to name items that were in the waiting room. A lot of things were recognized correctly, but things that normally did not appear in an office were not recognized.

Even more interestingly, participants seemed to recall things that normally appeared in the office, but actually were not there at all. For example, many participants recalled seeing books in the office, even though there were no books in the office. That is attributed to the fact that there are usually books in offices. This area of psychology is very fascinating, and helps us understand human behavior better.

-Jeremy L.

Cough and Cold Season: How do I Avoid it?

It is officially a cough and cold season everybody! With the new stands of covid spreading along with the yearly flu, it is very important to know how to stay safe in a time like this. Unlike normal flu seasons, Covid-19 is still as apparent as ever, making the process of taking precautions even more serious. Here I am going to let the public know, or remind them, of the important precautions that should be taken to accommodate the flowing viruses.

First and foremost, wash your hands!! Whenever you get home from school, work, or an event, the first thing you should think of doing is washing your hands. I know that saying this sounds like a no-brainer, but most people do not wash their hands when they get home. To put into perspective, all of the bacteria from all the different places you touched that others have also touched are all on your hands. If you were to eat, all that bacteria that may carry viruses will go into your system, which is not good! By consistently washing your hands, you are minimizing the chance of exposure.

My next precautionary step is something most people do not think of, which is disinfecting your phone. For most, their phone is like an extension of their body, meaning it travels everywhere with them. People also tend to always place their phones on tables, bags, and other dirty surfaces. When doing this, your phone picks up more bacteria than you could think of and is dirtier than a toilet seat. Now that you are thinking about all the places you have left your phone at today, think about how viruses could be on your phone, which you touch every day. To prevent your phone from causing a cold, always keep it when you get home. This means taking a disinfectant wipe and cleaning off your phone, killing all of the bacteria that had collected on your phone throughout the day. This way the bacteria is not transferring from your phone to your hands, which could cause you to get sick.

My last step may be the most important, that is to get the flu or covid vaccines. I am fully aware that vaccination has become politicized, but I am merely speaking from a neutral perspective, a health perspective. If you can find your local CVS or Walgreens, make an appointment to get the flu or cold vaccine. This way if you are exposed to either of the viruses, your body will have some immunity, and either you will not get sick, or you will experience symptoms that are a fraction as bad as they would have been without the vaccine. This way your immune system is built up and ready to face the virus that may enter your body. 

These are my helpful tips to keep you guys safe during this fall season!

-Lilly G.

Books For School vs. For Fun

Having just finished my first book for my senior English class, it got me thinking about why people have such a hard time reading books they are required to for classes. As an avid reader, I always find it a struggle to get my school reading done, even though I like the act of reading. I think the real issue I have with it is that I feel that it takes my time away from my personal reading. It also creates for less room about what impact the book had. 

When I am reading for school, it is usually a book that I don’t get to pick and everyone else in my class is reading as well. It feels like there is less room for discussion because all the students feel like they are supposed to have the same opinions. When reading books for fun, there is more room for people to share their thoughts on the book. Not everyone reads or interprets the same way, however when reading school books, everyone feels like they have to be the same. 

With school books, I also feel like I have less time for my personal reading which causes me to feel less inspired to read. I do believe that reading both for school and for fun can be something that is beneficial. Though it might be hard to read when it is not something we can do for fun, there is still a lot that can be learned from the reading we do in school. It might not be the most enjoyable use of our time, but it is something that we can discuss and learn from.

-Danielle B.

Problematic Tropes in Books

TW: Mentions of Abuse

1. “I am not like other girls”: This trope is particularly targeted against women using harmful stereotypes. These girls could be portrayed as hating makeup or reading a lot or being awkward, which defines how women as a total acts in society. Such stereotypes are used to demean women and the activities they partake in.

2. Limited Diversity: This applies to both members in the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ community. Authors only write these characters to earn some credit for being “open” and “inclusive.” Most of the time, these characters are used to further the main character’s plotline, have no character development at all, or are killed off. No matter where a story takes place, there will be more than one person of color and the LGBTQ community. People in these categories deserve representation too!

3. Enemies-to-Lovers gone wrong: This is a popular trope among book readers (such as myself) and could be enjoyable if done right. However, sometimes this trope uses abuse and doesn’t address it when the two enemies become lovers. This is a hard thing to do because if both of the people are good, how could they be enemies? Many people struggle with this and often defend the abusers against people who notice dangerous trends with these characters. Relationships should be portrayed as healthy, no matter what the trope is being used!

4. Love Triangle: It is common in this situation that stereotypes would be enforced in a harmful way. First of all, a woman is torn between choosing between two men. This choice becomes the only character development she obtains throughout the entire book, whether she chooses the right guy or not. Usually (not always) the girl chooses the guy who is more manipulative toward her because of the “intense” sexual tension between them (Relationships isn’t solely based around sexual tension but many books make it seem that way). And if it is 2 women desiring one man, they are often pitted against each other as competition, finding ways to demean each other and come out on top.

5. Love at First Sight: In no world could this be realistic. This attraction is caused by physical attraction which doesn’t say anything about someone’s personality. It states that love circulates around whether you find the person attractive and nothing about how they treat others around them. If young readers believe this as a real thing, many could potentially experience abusive relationships in the future. The “magic” that comes with the first glance of a potential love interest can’t make a relationship work out in the long run.

I might have said things that you disagree with (That’s okay. This is my viewpoint on these scenarios; you have every right to any opinion you have). And there must be more problematic book tropes that I didn’t mention above. If you have any you would like to share, comment them below!

-Saanvi V.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: The Importance of Companionship

This post assumes you have already read Of Mice and Men as it contains spoilers.

John Steinbeck’s social realism novella Of Mice and Men portrays the necessity for companionship in one’s life, especially migrant workers during the Great Depression. For instance, when Carlson kills Candy’s dog, the men feel anxious about how Candy will react while Candy feels helpless that he has lost his only companion which illustrates the need for friendship between individuals.

Typical migrant workers do not spend the day socializing, but rather traveling from place to place to earn money. They then spend it in foolish ways as they have no future which shows the significant need for fellowship in these particular individuals. Candy for instance had the companionship of his dog but was then pressured into allowing Carlson to kill it as it had no purpose due to old age. While his dog is being shot, Candy is “staring” at the ceiling and then “rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent” after the “shot sounded in the distance” (49). Candy feels depressed, hopeless, and wishes to mourn in private. With the death of his dog, he has no family or friends left and it can be difficult not having someone to confide in or provide for. Even the rest of the men in the room are anxious as George “rippled the edge of the deck nervously” (49). This reveals that they feel guilty as they know life can be harsh without a companion. For example, George and Lennie have each other to keep them sane and they have a future together. The “silence” (49) in the room shows the situation is uncomfortable between all of the men. Candy is now all alone and does not have anybody.

Having no one to turn to in life’s hardest moments can have a severe impact on one’s mental health. People’s purpose in life and their health are defined based on the companionships they form.

-Abby V.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

What Life Is All About

Everyone seems to have their own outlook on what life has to offer and what makes life so precious. In my perspective, it’s the little things that make life worth living. When people think of what the rest of their life has to offer, most think about the major events like graduating or their wedding. Although those are major and amazing parts of people’s lives, it’s vital to notice that life goes a lot deeper than that. 

Life is a collection of small moments. Some of those are going to be good, while others may be bad. We don’t give those moments enough credit, the little moments where you look over and someone’s thinking the exact same thing, smelling a scent you remember, hugging someone you missed, etc. There have been so many days I’ve looked back on and all I seem to remember is the random person I saw dancing in their car or how perfect the weather was. Each day is like a treasure hunt, full of hidden beauties and it’s up to us whether we want to overlook or appreciate them. 

Live for the endless laughter, for the sunsets, for the little thing, and you’ll feel the joys of life. It’s not always about the bigger picture, details are important. So, if there’s something that you want to do whether it’s writing a book or smiling at a stranger, do it. Even if it doesn’t’ affect your life, it’ll affect theirs.  

-Kaitlyn Y.