In the omitted section of the poem, "Prufrock's Pervigilium," it is
very clear the houses he walks by are brothels. It is also the case
that Eliot, at the time he wrote it, on the one hand, was very close
with Verdenal and, on the other hand, was a virgin who wrote about
desiring women. He may not yet have realized how badly that
would go for him, and he may not have realized what he felt for
Verdenal, whatever that was.
But it is not clear either who or what "Prufrock" is and how much it
is Eliot himself. He said in 1962 that it was partly himself and
partly someone else.
On 1 Apr 2003, at 13:25, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> George Carless wrote:
> > I've always felt that Prufrock was about something more than mere shyness,
> > and I think that homosexuality might (but probably doesn't) fit the bill.
> > It would do something to explain the poem's dedication and epigraph; in n
> > other words, if the poem *is* related to homosexuality then there may be
> > an implicit message there: that since Eliot himself *does* expect to
> > return, as it were, from the gulf of the poem, he is not entirely free to
> > speak 'without fear of infamy' of his 'overwhelming question'.
> > However, in the final analysis I doubt that the poem does pertain to
> > homosexuality - but rather to sexual improprieties that arise from a
> > dissatisfaction/boredom Prufrock/Eliot feels in his relationship. I
> > remember that when I first read Prufrock I immediately felt that the
> > 'half-deserted streets/The muttering retreats/Of restless nights in
> > one-night cheap hotels" pertained to brothels -- providing restless nights
> > both literatal and figurative.
> It has always been more "shameful" in practice to be known _not_ to have
> had sexual experience than to be known to have engaged in illicit sex.
> Prufrock is a virgin and it shames him. Moreover, it makes the future
> horrid: As an old man he can't look back on (or even continue) sexual
> experience but will be hanging out of the window of a one-room apartment
> smoking and wishing he were down at the local tavern with a woman.