To His Coy Mistress, Andrew Marvell Analysis

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Andrew Marvell: Final Essay

  It has been said that To His Coy Mistress is more about acting on the carpe diem ideal, than it is about love & lust. To what extent do you think this is true?

     Andrew Marvell was a 17th century English poet, parliamentarian and satirist. He belonged to a group commonly known as“ the metaphysical poets” which included/involved several famous poets such as John Donne or George Herbert. Their style was characterized by their unusual use of language to explore the vast questions about love, the carnal intercourse, the earth, the universe, the divine, the idea of existence or the truth just to mention a few. The use of images and word play revealed these complex ideas and feelings through wit, irony and humour especially in the surprising metaphors and similes, but also in  the metaphysical conceits.

Andrew Marvell in this metaphysical line, explored the carpe diem ideal and the theme of love and lust in his poem To His Coy Mistress, first published in 1681. His poem is the monologue of a man who woos his mistress by pressing her to give into a carnal intercourse (which bears the idea of love and lust), because time pursues them and the end seems near. We will consider each of these themes, in order to define if To His Coy Mistress is more about acting on the carpe diem ideal than it is about love and lust.

     In the first place, it would be evident to state that To His Coy Mistress is more about acting on the carpe diem ideal than it is about love and lust.

   Firstly because in terms of structure and images: this poem is divided in three stanzas with a simple rhyming scheme, which is AABBCC, and in each one of them the carpe diem ideal is mentioned to a great extent with an hyperbolic use of metaphors and allusions. Therefore, in these three stanzas, time is discussed through vast historical events such as “the Flood” line 8 and “the conversion of the Jews” line 10 which are two biblical events far apart chronologically, but supposed to represent an infinite amount of time.

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   But also through the allusions made on distance which are related to the time, such as “Indian Gange's” line 5 and “Humber” represent a great distance  which is perhaps an innuendo of a great amount of time which will fly away if they don't consume their love.

    However, these historical events and the allusions aren't the only marks of the carpe diem ideal in this poem, because Andrew Marvell's imagery is also composed of a important amount of striking metaphors about time. As a consequence, he uses the image of the “Time's winged chariot hurrying near”


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