Imagery in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock 2
"To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it toward some overwhelming question..."   (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

Eliot uses the ancient Egyptian religious symbol of the scarab beetle, which rolls its excrement into a ball and was said to roll the sun across the sky, to create an intricate image compounded of the vulgar and the divine--a combination which precisely describes Prufrock's view of his situation.

"pinned and wriggling..."   (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

This idea of being pinned to a wall recalls the imagery of crucifixion, in which Christ was nailed (or "pinned") to a cross. It's also reminiscent of butterfly and bug collections, where specimens are "pinned" to display boards. As a whole, this phrase is meant to suggest social anxiety and discomfort, which Prufrock feels whenever he's made to account for himself (his "days and ways").