The only way to achieve this mental sense of duration, Bergson maintains, is through direct intuition rather than indirect analysis. While much New Age philosophy and theory has hijacked this idea - that one should feel rather than think is an appealing concept - the damaging effects to Prufrock are evident. He is clearly a thinker, not a feeler, and his indecisive thoughts contribute directly to his paralysis, perhaps the most important theme in the poem. As the image of the cat unable to penetrate the house suggests, Prufrock cannot make a decision and act on it. Instead of a flowing duration that integrates all of time, he is imprisoned in the present.
The poem is very much a young man's work, though its speaker, through dramatic monologue, is a presumably middle-aged man. The farcical "J. Alfred Prufrock" name echoes Eliot's style at the time of signing his name "T. Stearns Eliot," and we can assume that Eliot shared at least some of Prufrock's anxieties over women, though he clearly satirizes Prufrock's neuroses (and, thus, his own) at points in the poem. However, this remains a dangerous assumption, as Eliot famously maintained in his essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent" that the "progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.
Eliot draws, perhaps, on his own experiences to write The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, but he extrapolates his sensations into the neurotic Prufrock, his alter ego. Since a poem spoken by Prufrock might have been unimaginative, Eliot chooses the device of a dramatic monologue to make his observations of the human condition. His use of the epigraph works well with the monologue to allow Eliot to write in the first person, and the technique keeps the poem fresh, even after several readings. It is more rewarding for a reader to make sense of a difficult poem, or a poem that makes its point in a very subtle manner, than it is to simply state an observation in plain language. Eliot makes a simple observation and keeps the reader interested by using unusual techniques that are both subtle and effective.