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Compare and contrast the way in which Marvell and Donne deal with the theme of Love. John Donne and Andrew Marvell were both notable English poets of the seventeenth century

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Compare and contrast the way in which Marvell and Donne deal with the theme of Love. John Donne and Andrew Marvell were both notable English poets of the seventeenth century. Donne's poem, "To His Coy Mistress" and Marvell's, "The Flea", both demonstrate the witty and satirical prose that the poets are both famous for. John Donne was in influential clergyman born into a strict London catholic home. Educated at Cambridge, Donne converted to Anglicanism and won great favour with King James 1. Andrew Marvell, also educated at Cambridge, was elected a Member of Parliament for his hometown of Hull and favoured the Roundheads during the English Civil War. Later, he changed his alliance to the Royalist side and became an influential member of king Charles II court. The poems, "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Flea" are both love poems that demonstrated the mocking of the idea of Courtly love. In the Elizabethan and the Stuart times, the idea of courtly love and chivalry were very popular and when wooing ones love, the rules of courtly love and chivalry must be observed. The conventions of courtly love are that a knight of noble blood would adore and worship a young noblewoman from afar, seeking to protect her honour and win her favour by valorous deeds. He typically falls ill with love-sickness, while the woman chastely or scornfully rejects or refuses his advances in public, but privately encourages him. Courtly love was associated with nobility, since no peasant could engage in "fine love"; secrecy; adultery, since often the one or both participants were married to another noble or trapped in an unloving marriage; and paradoxically with chastity, since the passion could never be consummated due to social circumstances, thus it was a "higher love" unsullied by selfish carnal desires. ...read more.


'Marble vault', suggests a lavish but echoic and demisable place, abandoned by all and left. Vault also implies a secrete hole or a place buried deep in the ground. Blood and death are again used a persuasive techniques but using these images in a love poem can also been seen as unique as the subjects of love poetry are usually flowers, hearts and kisses. Both poems also say that they will be killed by their love if they do not have sex. However, in The Flea, we also read references to murder where Donne accuses his love of committing three sins of not only killing the flea but killing her self and her lover. This is illustrated in 'And sacrilege, three sins in killing three'. In "The Flea", Donne's love is much more assertive than Marvell's love who seems to be silent and passive. This is shown when Donne's love kills the flea whilst Marvell's lady seems just to sit back. A line which shows this is 'Cruel and sudden, hast thou since' where Donne's love is squashing the 'love' by killing it. 'Cruel and sudden' suggest a violent death and the words are short and sharp to create the effect of malice and murder. This perhaps shows a woman who knows her own mind and what she wants in life. Structure is an important part of a poem. The structure in both poems is similar as both poems are spilt into two parts. In "The Flea", the first part in whimsical, following no particular pattern and trying to persuade his love. In the second part, Donne's language becomes absurd and he implies that the killing of the flea would also mean killing herself and him. ...read more.


In "To His Coy Mistress", Marvell describes the Indian Ganges and vast empires. This makes him seem educated and 'India', creates a romantic image of beautiful sunsets and riding on elephants in the jungles. 'Vast empires', creates the image of strength and power and of a ruler or king who could conquer anything. It also could mean huge areas of unconquered and undiscovered land that are just waiting to be explored. Whereas, in "The Flea", Donne bases his whole poem on the idea of the flea. In "The Flea", Donne uses direct language to show that sex is not an important part of the relationship. An example of this is 'mark but this flea', where Donne is saying 'take not and be aware'. "The Flea" and "To His Coy Mistress" are poems that mock and shame the idea of courtly love. In the poems, the men want nothing but to have sex with their 'loves'. Many different language devices and techniques are used to persuasive their would be lovers. In "To His Coy Mistress", the message is that while you are young and beautiful make the most of it because tomorrow could be your last. The structure of the poem is such that the mistress will find it hard to refuse Marvell. In "The Flea", Donne presents his poem as one half of a debate between a man and a woman and he wants to get his lover to have sex with him without being ashamed. A reader, however, could find that both of these poems are indecent and think that the recipients of them would not be impressed. The poets could have written happier and jollier poetry to try a win their maids. Sarah Merchant 10KAW English Draft ...read more.

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