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Prufrock, the protagonist of Eliot’s poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock at one point of his interior monologue refers to the story of John the Baptist in the Bible. John the Baptist was a prophet who was beheaded on Herod’s orders, and his head was brought upon a plate before the assembled company. Herod presented it to Salome, who had demanded it as a reward for her dancing. John the Baptist had declared unlawful Herod’s marriage to Herodias, Salome’s mother, on the grounds that she was Herod’s brother’s wife. The story is told in Mark VI, 17-29, and Matthew XIV, 3-11. 

Prufrock draws a mock-heroic parallel between himself and John the Baptist. In a vision he sees his severed head brought on a plate. The image of decapitation indicates Prufrock’s fear and timidity, and his split personality. But then he thinks that he is no prophet like John the Baptist, and after all, a marriage proposal is a trivial affair. So he should not be afraid. Yet he lacks moral courage to speak out his mind to his beloved. 


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