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Compare and Contrast how John Donne and Andrew Marvell present death in the poems To His Coy Mistress and Holy Sonnet X

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast how John Donne and Andrew Marvell present death in the poems To His Coy Mistress and Holy Sonnet X In the poems To His Coy Mistress and Holy Sonnet X the idea of death plays a strong part in the overall messages of the poems. Both poets use effective but very different methods in order to put forward their views and/or to make a point about society. John Donne's poem Holy Sonnet X is very unique Donne uses two main poetic elements: tone and figurative language. The confident and defiant tone adds to the speakers triumphant mastery death from a natural occurrence into a human adversary, capable of being overthrown. These elements all combine to enhance the theme of the poem. In contrast Marvell in To His Coy Mistress uses tone, figurative language and rhythm to give a completely different effect on the reader. The scornful, jeering manner of Sonnet X is replaced with the passionate and endearing spirit of an ardent lover. The figurative language used on the 'coy' mistress stirs the emotions and shocks the senses of the reader, allowing the increased intensity of the poem as it progresses to make the poem more effective. ...read more.

Middle

After stating:- "The grave's a fine and private place, But none, I think do there embrace." Marvell then goes on to say.... "Now therefore, while the youthful hue Sits on thy skin like morning dew." This example captures perfectly the subtle implications of the grave, and then this sudden transformation onto a completely new topic leaving the unpleasant image there to do its damage. Donne on the other hand uses a completely different approach by making all of his images obvious and continuous, and clearly linked with the subject: "Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men." Although these poems appear at first to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, there are a surprising amount of similarities between the two. Repulsive images are used often which I feel best provokes the right emotions to describe death, and to shock the reader. Marvell takes this to a higher level with more ghastly images such as, "then worms shall try/That long preserved virginity." Marvell makes use of hyperboles (deliberate exaggerations to emphasise), although Donne's persistence with dark images is just as effective: "And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell," All of these images are closely linked with death, and none are pleasant. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Donne's Holy Sonnet, his thoughtful and well presented beliefs on death are thought provoking and mentally stimulating in that they give a fresh outlook on an old subject. Donne essentially captures the whole essence of the fear of death - that it is self controlling and may be just around the corner - and contradicted this argument with astonishing shrewdness. Holy Sonnet X speaks out to me because of its astonishing directness. Donne has captured the very essence of Death and combined it with the jeering tones to bring the unseen force down to the level of an ordinary being. To His Coy Mistress appeals to my personal tastes, in the style and message of the poem. It is a very clever poem. Marvell very successfully lulls the reader into a passiveness with nicely rhyming couplets with only a few grotesque images to add to the overall effect of the poem. He demonises time as a tyrant, slowly killing us all until death finally kicks in to finish us. He then gives the impression that the best way to fight this demon is to love with enough passion to free us of the circle of life and death. Anita Boakye-Boateng 10BQ ...read more.

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