compare and contrast Andrew Marvell's poem, 'To His Coy Mistress', with Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet, 'How Do I Love Thee...?'

Authors Avatar

English Coursework!

English coursework!!

In this essay I will compare and contrast Andrew Marvell’s poem, ‘To His Coy Mistress’, with Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet, ‘How Do I Love Thee…?’

Andrew Marvell’s poem is about an older man trying persuade a younger women to ‘carpe diem’ (seize the day), in order to make love to her, by using compliments and flattery, ‘Vaster than empires, and should go to praise.’(Stanza 1, line 12)

Additionally, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet is about a female who is expressing her feelings towards a male. Judging by the poem, the woman is deeply in love with the man in a spiritual sense, ‘I love thee to the depth and breadth and height, my soul can reach.’ (Line 2-3)

‘To His Coy Mistress’ is a comparatively long poem of 46 lines, which is divided into three stanzas, representing different parts of the  argument for which he is trying to persuade her to sleep with him.

In the first stanza, the man flatters the women by using grandiose imagery and hyperbole. He says that her ‘coyness’ would be of no consequence ‘had we but world enough and time’ (Line 1) and then follows with more detail in the following stanzas. The older man also shows how interested he is by expressing the magnitude of his feelings, by explaining how he would, ‘love you ten years before the flood’ (Line 8), even if his love were to remain unrequited, ‘till the conversation of the Jews.’(Line 10) In addition he then describes how long he would be prepared to appreciate all of her physical attributes, ‘two hundred to adore each breast, But thirty thousand to the rest.’(Line 15-16)

On one hand, he is trying to prove to the young women how much he wants her; on the other hand she could perceive his words in the wrong way, maybe he just wants to sleep with her? You could argue that this is satirising the king’s court, because even though he is flattering her, it is inappropriate to assume that he would be allowed to look at her for this long period of time.

Join now!

In the second stanza, he continues to us the grandiose imagery from the first stanza, but introduces a sense of urgency. When he says, ‘but’ in the very first line, the audience realises that there is going to be a shift in focus. He now says that he hears ‘times winged chariot hurrying near.’(Line 22) From this point, his imagery becomes increasingly desperate. He tries to shock the women into sleeping with him, by talking about her ‘coyness’, and if she perseveres in life that way, she runs the risk of only ‘worms…trying that long preserved virginity.’(Line 27-28) He ...

This is a preview of the whole essay