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“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” – T.S. Eliot: A semantic analysis of selected metaphors in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Metaphor is the most widely recognized and discussed type of trope. It has attracted the attention of analysts from various disciplines, e.g. philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and literature. Research from these fields has shown that metaphors are ubiquitous and indispensable in our lives. It is not only literary discourse that is abundant with metaphors, but metaphors are also common in scientific discourse and even in our everyday language. Moreover, research from cognitive linguistics has shown that our thinking is metaphorical to a certain extent. Thus, if metaphors are so ubiquitous in our lives, how do we recognize them?

In this paper selected metaphors from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot have been analyzed. These are metaphors from literary discourse; hence, the analysis was partly influenced by the genre and the specific, poetic context. The focus is on linguistic metaphors that can be identified in this poetic text, not on underlying conceptual metaphors. The aim of this paper has been to see how the metaphors in the poem are constructed and how the metaphorical part of the strings they occur in interacts with a seemingly literal part.

According to the results of the analysis, the metaphorical constructions in the poem show a variety of modes of interaction among their constituents. Typically the metaphorical part of the poetic construction evokes a complex and directly perceptible phenomenon which serves as the basis for the understanding of the poetic persona’s feelings. Also the metaphors that describe the setting of the poem seem to be projections of the protagonist’s mood. Thus, the affective aspect of the metaphors is essential in the poem since it connects the metaphors to a network of meanings related to a prominent theme of the poem, namely the speaker’s paralysis and insecurity of himself, adding to the expressive complexity of the poem’s structure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Metaphor, linguistic metaphor, poem, vehicle, topic, grounds, context, affective aspects
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-77190OAI: diva2:530470
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-12-13 Created: 2012-06-02 Last updated: 2012-12-13Bibliographically approved

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