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.