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Modernism - 'Prufrock', 'Bartleby the Scriverner' and 'the Trial'

  • Date Submitted: 10/19/2011 05:37 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 13.4 
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Modernism
Modernism, a literary movement of the twentieth century, reveals the rejection of tradition and an era of experimentation and discovery in the exploration of individualism and nature of social institutions. Thomas Stearns Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, Herman Melville’s ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street’ and Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ criticise contemporary life through a dichotomy of the individual and society, which highlights an evident distinction between traditional and new ideologies. The damaged and sterile condition of modern society is predominantly exposed as the individual struggles with isolation from social institutions, thus exhibiting the rejection of traditional practices and the establishment of new ways of understanding the world.
In Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, irregular rhyme and images contribute to a fragmented depiction of society. The debasement of the environment, from “the sky” to “half deserted streets” to the “sawdust restaurants”, implies its eventual degradation. The dramatic monologue satirises society’s paralysed and wounded state, established by the simile “like a patient etherised”, primarily through Prufrock, who initially embodies indecisive and timid qualities.
Prufrock, undertaking an existentialistic point of view, also recognises modern life’s lack of authenticity and meaningless existence; juxtapositions, for instance “murder and create”, reflects his irritation to its wastefully contradicting nature. Prufrock’s references to time and repetitions, such as “known them all already, known them all” and “Do I dare?” establish his procrastination, entrapment in the sterile society and yet refusal to engage in society’s conventions. Thus, within the individual’s struggle, readers are able to explore Prufrock’s rejection of traditional practices and ultimate creation of his own understanding of the world.
The metaphoric impersonation of a cat through the objective...

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