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Rickard A. Parker wrote:
> Tom Colket wrote:
>> In Eliot's "Prufrock" there are numerous places where the narrator
>> addresses or refers to another person, a "you" or a "we".  My question
>> is: Is the narrator referring to one specific person (i.e., the same
>> person) in all these lines, or is more than one single individual
>> being referenced?
> 
> Just to mess with your mind a bit - what if each of the you's are plural?
> 
> "Let us go then, you and I . . . Let us [three] go and make our visit."
> 
> For a serious answer I'll have to get myself into a serious mood.

Tom, the idea of the plural "you" came up because I had
recently read the Wikipedia article on the word "thou."
A good one.  It quotes the wonderful line "I thou thee,
thou traitor."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou


I think I'm serious enough for now to reply to your query.

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Let us go then, you and I,	
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,	
Let us go and make our visit.	

This "you" could be the reader but if not I would guess
that it is a single male.  The visit is not one I see a
man taking with a recently be-friended woman and if not
one of those then what would Prufrock's problem be
then?

----------------------------------------------------

And indeed there will be time	
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;	
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,	

The "you" in "you meet" and "your plate" seems to me to
be mainly the generic "you" that could be easily turned
into the impersonal "one" ("that one meets", "on one's
plate".) And while the "you" in "Time for you" could
also be a generic "you" it seems to me to be a bit more
personal.  That is to say that while there is time for
everyone, I want you/thou, a particular individual
person, to note this.

-----------------------------------------------------

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.	
... among some talk of you and me,

Eliot has divided the poem into sections with markers.
This may be a way of attaching fragments of poems to
each other. At any rate the person (singular person)
that he appears to be talking in the three stanzas
starting with line 75 seems to me to be a woman.

-----------------------------------------------------


To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,	
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,	
   Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.	
   That is not it, at all.

The "you all" is generic and could easily be replaced
with "the whole world" here but that would remove a
sense of personal involvement. Also note that Prufrock
has used the impersonal "one" in these lines (and in
the following ones also.  That helps me come to the
conclusion that there is no real person being addressed
in this section.  If Prufrock *were* really talking to
a woman though I can see this use of "one" as a way of
distancing himself from a possible painful answer.  The
woman would see it as a way of distancing him from her.
Maybe this explains part of Prufrock's problems with
women.

Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,	
And turning toward the window, should say:	
   “That is not it at all,	
   That is not what I meant, at all.”

-----------------------------------------------------

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea	
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.	

Here I'm thinking that "we" means Prufrock and others
like him.  It's possible that Prufrock thinks that the
listener is one like him and thus inclusive in the "we"
but I don't get that impression.  Anyway, I see that
Prufrock and at least one other are in their own dream
world and, twisting the metaphor around, like fish out
of water when in the human world.

-----------------------------------------------------

I hope I've redeemed myself for some of my recent silliness.

Regards,
    Rick Parker