Death vs Desire

  
As we come towards the end we finally see Prufrock acknowledge the existence of moving time as he says "I grow old...I grow old..."  Then, in the final stanza, we read that Prufock has spent his life "lingering" and here he awakes to human voices -so what has awakened him? I believe we are left with two possible readings, that Pruffock goes to death paralyzed by indecision in his fear of it or that he "drowns in desire" so to speak--giving in to "human voices" and human whims.  In the first, more negative, reading, we are depending on the evidence provided by the vast majority of the work.  We have seen again and again Prufock's firm belief that there will be time later for his decisions, perhaps here he is awakening to the reality of death as a final end to indecision as he has simply ran out of time to waffle.  On the other hand, the line "till human voices wake us" seems to imply that Prufock is wakening to something human where death most certainly is not.  In this case, we can understand that he has given over indecision in favor of the trait that is perhaps most human-desire- and has proceeded to (as Wilde's Dorian Gray or Balzac's Raphael before him) chosen to drown in pleasure.   Perhaps, the references to not being Hamlet, the questioning of trivial actions, the reference to Marvell's work should all be read as Prufrock realizing his folly.
  
 
 
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                                                                                         TIME TO CHOOSE

                        DEATH   OR     DESIRE          
                          
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