Eliot demonstrates a wide range of stanzaic structures, imagery and fragmentation of verses to depict the changes of settings in Preludes and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The story line for Preludes is merely the narrators daily life in the depressing, working class residence of an ambiguous city. In contrast, Prufrock is a traumatic monologue of an upper class, reserved narrator who is in a confused state of mind throughout the poem. His aim is to fit and submerge with the other members of society yet his anxiety and self-consciousness takes hold of him so he is always alone and refers to himself as you in the poem. Nevertheless the settings in Prufrock are constantly changing as he takes a different train of thought. In disparity, the settings in Preludes vary only slightly from the general unanimity of the city from the outside and a feeling of loneliness inside the house. One feels in this poem that the narrator could be anyone yet he is so isolated from the rest of the world that it is similar to Prufrocks confused and secluded position in the city.
The most important way in which Eliot contrasts his settings in the two poems is by his illustration of time passing. Only through the form of the poem, Preludes is structured in five distinct sections marking the constantly moving time showing the city moving by quickly during the day and slowly in the night -the morning comes to consciousness. In this line the city comes back to life with the sawdust-trampled streets once again giving way for people to pass. Eliot has also personified time itself in Preludes as he mentions that when time resumes one thinks of all the hands and it seems that time seems to be bringing forth a new change in the setting with it. Furthermore the poem has several references to the actual time itself throughout the continuous day such as at four and five and six oclock which reiterate the relevance of the changes of time altering settings and fragmentation of the time everywhere else. In Prufrock however, time is not considered as important to the creations of settings as the narrator himself seems unaware of the time and is vague- indeed there will be time to demonstrate how distant he is from what is going on around him. His only remarks of time itself come when he is referring to himself as old and the personal sense of the poem is unravelled there.
As a result of time being discarded so evidently in Prufrock, Eliot has created the settings based more on the language used to describe the external and internal landscapes. It is believed that Eliot himself was influenced by the work of French Symbolists in the nineteenth century who wrote about revealing inner truths by using the world around you. Eliot demonstrates this idea in Prufrock when he describes the yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window pane as a living and breathing thing and capable of expressing itself even outside the house. The reference to smoke is carried forth even in Preludes as the burnt-out ends of smoky days and suggests that even here the days are realistic and the vivid description of the fog, smoke and dirt further shows the reality of the streets in the time of urban growth in major cities like London and New York. As well as this the ends of days are similar to Prufrocks view of the butt-ends of my days and ways and suggest that his state of mind is clouded and used to such an extent that he feels polluted and isolated nevertheless. His inner feelings also change the setting when he is describing the internal settings for instance lying curled once about the house refers to his lonely and reclusive train of thought and changes as soon as he thinks of people and meeting them. In contrast to Prufrocks inner emotions displayed by the setting, the narrator in Preludes describes his soul stretched tight across the sky demonstrating perhaps the suffocation of the narrator inside this vast and crowded city and it could be his desire of being set free into the sky as a refuge from the constant demands of the city. However others could argue that the image of being stretched is negative and implies the person being treated like an object or a painting.
The influence of science and politics is also noticeable in some of the internal settings described in the poems such as the decaying, urban dwellings pictured in Preludes as vacant lots which differ immensely to the thousand furnished rooms also illustrated in the third stanza. The setting The constraints of society in dividing the upper from the lower classes is expressed in both poems as Preludes describes the working class as having yellow soles of feet which contrasts significantly with the fancy skirts that trail along the floor as described in Prufrock. The opposites in terms of language and imagery further shows how the class Eliot is dealing with changes the mood and setting of the poems and is one of the major differences between the two poems.