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Compare and contrast how Donne and Marvell present death in To His Coy Mistress and Death Be Not Proud.

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Introduction

English Literature Coursework: Poetry Comparison Compare and contrast how Donne and Marvell present death in To His Coy Mistress and Death Be Not Proud To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell and Death Be Not Proud by John Donne were written for two different purposes but the poets have used death as one of the main ideas in both poems. Death Be Not Proud was written at the time when Donne was ill so anger and contempt are very strong feelings that feature in the poem. Death Be Not Proud is in a group of poems and hymns written by Donne called the Holy Sonnets. Donne's Holy Sonnets explore his love of God and depict his doubts, fears and sense of spiritual unworthiness. Death Be Not Proud is the most prominent example because the messages and ideas Donne has written about never show him as spiritually at peace. The arguments used in Death Be Not Proud tend to defy death and are much more positive even though the poem is in fact quite negative. This may be because Donne was trying to make death seem small and insignificant because of his fear of it. The opening words of the poem "Death Be Not Proud," immediately show Donne's need to challenge death. ...read more.

Middle

In To His Coy Mistress, the poet is talking to his Mistress whereas in Death Be Not Proud the poet is talking to death itself. This difference makes the language and tone used in the poems different. In To His Coy Mistress, the fusion of love and death would make it an influential poem to read for the woman at the time, but I feel that Marvell concentrates so much on physical love and appearance that this influence becomes void. This fusion of love and death can be seen in the line "Thy beauty shall no more be found." The "beauty" is an example of the physical love and mixed with the thought of "shall no more be found" it makes a powerful statement. Another theme that death is mixed with in this poem to make an impact is time. "Time's winged chariot hurrying near," is a good example of this. It describes the need for a fast response because of the lack of time and the winged chariot showing the time rushing by and no way to curtail it. Unlike Death Be Not Proud, this poem portrays death as the final place. Donne uses the idea of life after death but Marvell chooses to make death seem like an empty place that is dark and overwhelming. ...read more.

Conclusion

Marvell is trying to show that the love he has for his Mistress is true or idealistic, but using grotesque images makes it seem that he is trying too hard and therefore cannot be truly in love with her. Images such as the "worms" may sway the Mistress' opinion but would not give her any confidence in the love Marvell has for her. Marvell's usage of rhyming couplets is a clever way of making the poem easier to interpret and Donne has also done well in using this method. I find that Death Be Not Proud is a more effective poem because the arguments are much stronger and Donne does not seem as desperate to convince. Donne has used much more traditional persuasion techniques such as irony and wit to convey the emotional messages in the poem. His usage or a rhetorical question, "why swell'st thou then?" makes the poem have more interesting and believable. To His Coy Mistress is not as plausible as a poem because of the inconsistencies it has. The main one being Marvell's need to express his feeling of true love so greatly but then only using phrases such as "adore each breast" and thine eyes," which describe only physical love. These conflicting ideas make Marvell's arguments unrealistic and make him seem as though he is in fact not in love with the woman at all but has his mind set on one goal without respecting her feelings. Rachel Diamond ...read more.

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