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Compare the presentation of seduction in the poems 'To His Coy Mistress' by Andrew Marvell and 'The Willing Mistress' by Aphra Behn.

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Introduction

Louise Collins Compare the presentation of seduction in the poems 'To His Coy Mistress' by Andrew Marvell and 'The Willing Mistress' by Aphra Behn Both Marvell and Behn wrote during the Renaissance period and had different styles. However, they explored similar themes. In 'To His Coy Mistress', Marvell uses a cleverly structured argument called 'syllogism' to persuade his lover to 'seize the day' and make love before their passion fades. In the first section, Marvell speculates how he would adore his mistress. He compliments his mistress saying she deserves such praise. He uses hyperbole to illustrate the extent of his love. He uses many vast geographical and biblical allusions to tell the vastness of his love. The tone in the second section is desolate and threatening. Time is personified to show it's inevitable conclusion - death confronts us all. He uses a blunt reminder that 'times winged chariot' is 'hurrying near'. Threatening images of graves and decay emphasise his point. The imagery becomes morbid and disturbing as he reminds his lover, manipulatively, that death will inevitably destroy her virginity. In the third section of the poem, Marvell draws his triumphant conclusion. His lover is young and beautiful and they desire one another. ...read more.

Middle

She uses euphemism, which suggests to the reader the playful and innocent nature of to 'play upon the moss'. Senses of uncertainty are exposed, again, when she states, 'The sun itself, though it had strove, it could not have betrayed us'. The winds are also mentioned as trying to reveal them when they 'kiss the yielding boughs'. 'The heat of al the day' intensifies the lovers' passion. 'His charming eyes' tells the reader that the female persona has left all insecurities behind her and she has become wholly seduced by him. Her willingness to be 'led' by him tells us their relationship is trusting. A partner leading another in this way suggests the reciprocal nature of the relationship. Behn expresses a woman's willingness to be seduced but fails to tell us the explicit details, which proves playful. Marvell emphasises his point in the first section of 'To His Coy Mistress' by using sentences containing long vowels to slow the pace of the poem and emphasise how long he would wait for her. 'Long love's day' is a good example as it uses both assonance and alliteration to make the phrase last forever, like his love. 'Thou by the Indian Ganges' side, Should'st rubies find' reference to jewels connotes how precious she is to him. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the final section of the poem, Marvell tries to persuade his mistress, yet again, to seize the day. He uses a simile to convey the transient nature of youth, he claims her beauty is like a beautiful 'morning dew' that will soon evaporate her appearance and she will appear no longer sexually attractive. Whilst she is young and beautiful, passion burns within her like 'instant fires'. He wants them to consummate their love and savour her 'fleeting youth'. The metaphorical description 'iron gates of life' tells us that life is hard and full of though restrictions that ought to be and can be broken by them. 'Iron gates of life' describes boundaries as barbaric. The way in which he wishes to break such a strong boundary with just their love for each other represents his confidence at the success of his words. I preferred 'To His Coy Mistress' to 'The Willing Mistress' because it had hidden depths and meanings. I liked the way in which the poetic techniques were used to produce such a powerful effect. I also like the way in which the tone changes so often to portray his point. I did like 'The Willing Mistress' because it is playful and humorous but it is only a simple story and not a cryptic piece of poetry. ...read more.

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