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Compare the ways in which the poems "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Flea" seduce

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Introduction

Compare the ways Marvell and Donne use their poems to seduce The two poems, "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Flea" were both written with one thing in mind: seduction. The poems were later labelled as Metaphysical poems, which is a term used for poems that were written in a certain period, usually to seduce, and contained unusual metaphors. The 17th century was a highly religious period, as well as a time when the rich decided to travel around the earth discovering new and unseen land, which gave ground to myths and legends. Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" uses a syllogistic argument as well as using the "carpe diem" theme. The thesis is the first section of the poem, in which Marvell drowns the woman in flattery, telling her all the time he would spend idolising her if only they had enough time. The second section of the poem sees Marvell reminding the lady that the time they have is too short to even considering doing all this, the antithesis. This leads to the conclusion that they must make love to one another now, as their time is too precious to waste. The syllogistic argument is similar to the theme of "carpe diem". Marvell tells her all the things they could do, although they can't as time casts it's restraints over them, so they must "seize the day" and have sex there and then. Marvell introduces the poem with the rather controversial line, "Had we but world enough, and time," which implies right from the start that all the things he is about to describe are unobtainable. ...read more.

Middle

"And now, like amorous birds of prey," is a line that Marvell uses to describe their sex as wild, as well as passionate. "Rather at once our time devour, Than languish in his slow-chapped power." In these two lines, Marvell makes a brief reference to time, and how he wants to control it. Marvell then continues with the sexual metaphors: "Let us roll all our strength, and all Our sweetness, up into one ball; And tear our pleasures with rough strife, Through the iron gates of life" Presumably "strength" would be a reference to a penis, whilst "sweetness" would be reference to a vagina, and the "roll"(ing) up would be a metaphor for sex. The third line makes reference to powerful and violent sex, with the "iron gates of life" signifying a woman's maidenhead. Marvell end the poem very philosophically, in contrast to the sexual imagery. "Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run." Marvel is basically saying that he cannot stop time, but they can control and enjoy what they do within it. Marvell's poem uses many unusual metaphors, and was very "new-age" for it's time, as purity was still very treasured. If they had all the time in the world, they would idolise each other for an eternity before even considering sex, but that's not the reality, as they will only end up dead; thus it's only logical to "carpe diem", and have sex now whilst they can. Donne also uses a syllogistic argument to seduce a woman, except his is an intellectual argument that is based on a shaky concept as it's foundation. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are also similarities and differences in the imagery used by the poets. Both poems use sexual and religious imagery, something typical of Metaphysical poems. One may argue that Marvell makes less use of hyperbole, focussing strongly on elements of death, time and general romanticism. Donne focuses heavily on theming his imagery around religion and sex, seeming very antagonistic. The poems both use very unusual metaphors throughout, as well as some hyperbole. As I had previously mentioned, Marvell's use of hyperbole is far less prominent than Donne's. The metaphors and hyperboles are largely focussed around sex which is again a common feature of Metaphysical poetry. The structure of the poems is, on the surface, very similar. They both contain 3 parts, separated into stanza's. This, however, is where the similarities end. Marvell's poem very gradually builds up, starting with very romantic imagery and ending in very sexual imagery. Contrarily, Donne delves straight in, with use of very sexual themes as well as very religious ones. This leads well onto my final point, Marvell is far more romantic than Donne. He uses for more romantic themes, as well as less aggressive imagery. Donne tries to win his woman with hyperbole, guilt and intelligence as opposed to flattery. Which of the two methods would have proved more successful is debatable, but both poets put forth very strong arguments to plead their case for sex. The poems, successful in their aims or not, were before their time and very forward thinking. They contributed to the very "sexually open" society we live in today, exposing 17th century women to the true power of seductive poetry. Glen Peacock 10R2 ...read more.

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