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Compare and contrast the poetry of seduction through the work of Andrew Marvell and Wendy Cope

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Compare and contrast the poetry of seduction through the work of Andrew Marvell and Wendy Cope 'To His coy mistress' was written in the 17th century by Marvell (a man). In complete contrast 'Message' was written in the 20th century by Cope (a woman). It is not just the viewpoints of the two poems which are hugely different, the purpose of each are equally so. The purpose of Marvell's poem was to try and cajole his 'coy mistress' into giving up her 'long preserv'd Virginity', while Cope's was to try and ease her frustration because the man she likes has failed to phone her. The difference in purpose is reflected in the type of communication in the two poems; Marvell's is a direct address to his mistress while Cope is essentially airing her frustrations on paper, she is not directly communicating with this man but merely trying to somehow telepathically communicate with him. It is ironic that in a world full of modern communication she seems to have lost her ability to express herself. Although there are some inherent differences between the poems, there are some common themes. There is a sense of getting tired of waiting in both poems; Cope is obviously tired of waiting for the man to phone her, while Marvell is tired of waiting for his mistress to lose her coyness. There is also a sense of a lack of control in both poems, in Cope's she is completely dependent on the man picking up the phone and calling her, in Marvell's he is completely dependent on his mistress giving him what he wants; her body. ...read more.


He uses three basic elements: flattery, shock and finally suggestion. In lines 1 to 20 he describes how if time were no issue, he would understand her coyness and he would spend years to adore each and every part of her body. In describing how he would do this he is not only flattering her but there is also the embodiment of the sexuality and physicality which runs all the way through the poem. Marvell says a 'hundred years' should go to her eyes and her forehead but 'Two hundred to each breast'. In this section he also offers the phallic . image of the vegetable which I mentioned previously but this also fits in with the sexual and physical nature of the poem. Then in lines 21 to 32 he shocks and terrifies her, he says that they don't enjoy the benefit of time, quite the opposite in fact, time is fast catching up with them. In this section he also describes how 'worms shall try that long preserv'd Virginty'. This image is meant to be taken quite literally and has been used by Marvell in order to try and shock his mistress into losing her virginity now or else this is the horrible way that she will end up doing so. Finally he uses death as a method of shocking her, her 'quaint honour will turn to dust; and into ashes all my lust'. The final section is almost a conclusion he suggests what should be done now. ...read more.


Marvell doesn't just use imagery for shock and flattery. He uses imagery for humour and also to heighten the sense of physicality and sexuality in the poem. The images which are humorous and sexual are the phallic image of the vegetable, the description of how he would spend hundreds and even thousands of years worshipping every part of her body especially each of her breasts and finally the worms taking her virginity. Marvell uses such tongue in cheek images firstly because his poem was a parody of other love letters written at the time, so he is vastly over-exaggerating his flattery of her body for this reason. Secondly one gets the sense that his mistress wasn't completely na�ve and so his metaphysical imagery was included for her own amusement. Finally I think he includes such physical images to convey how much he physically yearns for this woman. After looking at these two poems I think that Marvell's poem is much more effective. It has a clear purpose which is carried out in a very intelligently structured way. This is in contrast to the sporadic airing of frustrations which Cope's poem ultimately seems to be. Furthermore Marvell uses a great quantity and variety of imagery which helps his poem tremendously. The imagery helps him flatter, shock and suggest. At the same time the imagery is doing this it also lightening up the poem, giving it more humour. It also gives the poem a more sexual and physical feel which in the context of its purpose is very useful and effective. ...read more.

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