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GCSE: Andrew Marvell

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Top tips for writing about Andrew Marvell's poetry.

  1. 1 Marvell was born in 1621 in Yorkshire, England. He studied at the University of Cambridge and whilst he was there begun to publish his first poetry, which was written in Latin and Greek. He died in London in 1678.
  2. 2 Marvell was a metaphysical poet (a group of English poets from the 17th century) and was interested in metaphysical concerns. This meant he thought about the world in a rational way rather than in relation to mystery or intuition.
  3. 3 Marvell’s poems, like other metaphysical poets, often had some of these characteristics:

    Often very witty and enjoyed using original metaphors,
    Often presented a subtle argument,
    Often wrote about issues of the time, or satires,
    T.S. Eliot said their work fused passion with reason.
  4. 4 Although the attitudes and values expressed in his poems may seem like Marvell’s ideas, it is important to recognise that the poet is not the narrator, even when the poem is written in first person.

Writing about Marvell's poetry

  1. 1 The perspective, tone and register of narrator is a good place to start analysis. Remember that these can differ within poems.
  2. 2 Titles, openings and endings can be a good way to analyse the poems.
  3. 3 Look for patterns and oppositions (or lack of) that emerge.
  4. 4 Consider effects of poetic techniques, for example use of imagery or phonological devices (to do with sounds). Marvell enjoyed using metaphor and hyperbole.
  5. 5 Consider the effects of structure (e.g. number of verses, rhythm, rhyme etc.) and form as well as language. For example, Marvell structures To His Coy Mistress as a logical argument, contributing to the persuasive message of the poem.

Things to remember when writing essays

  1. 1 All essays should be well planned with clear points. This will help to create a structured essay.
  2. 2 Introductions should clearly show they are answering the question Each paragraph should ideally begin with a topic sentence which addresses the question, evidence from the poem/s to support the point (with quotes embedded), and detailed analysis using technical terminology. This can be known as P.E.E (Point, Evidence, Explain).
  3. 3 If relevant, some contextual information about Marvell, metaphysical poetry and the 17th century might contribute to an analytical response.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 4
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    With close reference to the two poems which you have studied, show how the poets have approached the theme of romantic love.

    4 star(s)

    "Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness Lady, were no crime." Marvell uses the word "crime", in order to suggest that her refusal of him amounted to a crime. He does this in order to make her feel a bit guilty or foolish because she is refusing him. This is the first indication of his persuasive and selfish argument. Marvell continues by suggesting that if they did have all the time in the world on their hands, his lady could even walk by the River Ganges, a river in India, where she could amuse herself by finding rubies while he would remain by the river Humber.

    • Word count: 2495
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and Contrast "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love".

    3 star(s)

    The speaker says "come live with me" and "we will all the pleasures". On the other hand Marvell is after only one thing and that is to go to bed with the woman. His argument is that time is running out for the young woman. The poet makes the speaker use a very graphic image about her losing her virginity to worms in a graveyard when she is dead; "then worms shall try that long preserved virginity". He also uses many other techniques to persuade his woman. This graphic image is an attempt to persuade the woman into bed with him.

    • Word count: 1532
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Comparison of 'Our Love Now' and 'One Flesh' with 'To His Coy Mistress' and 'Rapunzstiltskin'

    3 star(s)

    The use of metaphors in both poems is strong. Both writers refer to love as a living thing. Marvell mentions a 'My vegetable love should grow' and Lowery mentions 'The tree is forever dead'. This indicates that the writers think of love as something which can grow like a living thing but can also die like something living. Both writers use this metaphor differently, Marvell uses his growing love positively whereas Lowery uses the more negative approach to love dying. However, this is because Marvell only presents the positive side to an argument, had his mistress replied she may have said something similar to Lowery's partner.

    • Word count: 1596
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Which of 'The Sun Rising' by John Donne and 'To His Coy Mistress' by Andrew Marvell do you believe to be the most successful poem?

    Not much is known about Marvell as prior to his death, very few of his works had been published. From what is recorded though, we believe that during these 5 years in which he spent travelling between Holland, Italy, France and Spain, he wrote all of his poetry that has now become well known. After his travels he applied for a job as assistant secretary to the council of state and after 4 years was finally given the position thus concluding his short lived, unrecognised, literary career.

    • Word count: 2291
  5. Metaphysical Love Poems

    'Breaking the curled trammels of her hair,' Here, Marvell has used the word trammels to describe the woman's hair; this is an odd choice of words but it adds to the effect and carries on the trend using military imagery. It is as though he is caught in a net, her hair. The poet then suggests that she is controlling him, like a siren, 'Whose subtle art invisibly can wreathe My fetters of the very air I breathe?' her 'subtle art' is her singing voice and she is astounding him and taking his breath away with her 'fetters', which literally means chains but here it describes her voice as strong in, once again, a surprising use of imagery.

    • Word count: 2193
  6. Andrew Marvells To His Coy Mistress was written in the Seventeenth Century.

    The older woman is a complimentary, passionate and persuasive character who comes across as upfront and overpowering. He his of high status and well, educated shown by the language he uses 'Of Humber would complain as she. I would'. The woman is of high status like the older man but she is shy, as she does not speak and doesn't want to lose her virginity to just anybody. The older man and woman's relationship is based on a traditional man seducing a reluctant woman. He presents his wishes as the best for both of them.

    • Word count: 497
  7. English essay

    Unlike the first poem there is nothing in "the passionate Sheppard" that implies his love is not legitimate. The tone in "the passionate Sheppard" doesn't change. It is constantly talking about lavishing the Sheppard's love with gifts. This is shown in the quote "A bed of straw and ivy buds, with coral clasps and amber studs". This shows the value of the gifts he planned to give her, whereas in "to his coy mistress" the mood varies. It starts very persuasive and slow, but after the first 20 lines he becomes moody, impatient and quite nasty.

    • Word count: 808
  8. A Dialogue between the Soul and Body by Andrew Marvell

    We see the body as a placid being and the soul of a vivacious nature, which torments the body into an active existence. The fact that the body appears to possess the soul implies superiority over it, but disregards the necessity of both to create a conscious life. I feel, that cannot feel, the pain, And all my care itself employs, That to preserve, which me destroys: The soul can perceive but cannot actually feel any pain that the body encounters.

    • Word count: 1160
  9. To his coy mistress

    He then tries to persuade her by using flattery 'two hundred to adore each breast but thirty thousand to the rest' this flatters and persuades her, this is also a hyperbole. Stanza 2 The narrator's basic point in stanza 2 is we do not have all the time in the world. In lines 12-22 he says 'but at my back I always hear, times winged chariot hurrying near' this means we do not have much time so lets not wait any longer, and the image of times winged chariot hurrying near is saying that time is going fast and coming nearer to our deaths.

    • Word count: 1965
  10. To his Coy Mistress

    * Marvell adds to the exotic image of his mistress by describing her collecting rubies by the 'Indian Ganges'. He also uses biblical references like 'before the flood', which is supposed to represent the idea of Noah's Ark. The vegetable metaphor seems to be an attempt at being honest, and not using flowery phrases. Plants are also very simple, and symbols of nature, so possibly he telling her his love is like this, pure and nothing she should shy away from.

    • Word count: 1241
  11. To His Coy Mistress- In the beginning of the poem, the speaker explains to his mistress how much he would love to live f

    He promises to her that he will dedicate a hundred years to her eyes. Then he tells her that he would dedicate two hundred to each breast. Here you begin to see how his mind begins to shift toward s*x. He begins to shift his thoughts from her eyes to her body. He is very nonchalant about it. After the comment about her b*****s he says and thirty to the rest. He is trying to be smooth about it, but in the next stanza we begin to see his patience giving out. In the second stanza he goes from being the person that you could spend eternity with to a person whose time is coming to an end fast.

    • Word count: 586
  12. The seventeenth century was an era of beautiful poetry by important poets such as John Donne, Marvell, George Herbert, Sir John Supling etc... Just like on the other periods Love was one main theme on their poems

    One of his most important works "Flaming Heart - Teresa" clearly shows us how a religious point of view and writing style he has. In the story of Teresa, there is a woman who gives all her life to her religion, Christianity; and all the difficulties that she has during her life just because of her Christianity love. Andrew Marvell (1621 - 1678) was a quite man, educated in Cambridge. It is thought that he wrote most of his poems in Nun Appleton house in Yorkshire while he was the tutor of Sir Thomas Fairfax's daughter.

    • Word count: 1911
  13. The two poems which I am comparing are by Andrew Marvell and John Donne whom are both metaphysical poets from different backgrounds. The poet John Donne is the probably the greatest metaphysical poet, he was born in 1572 in Bread Street

    His father, a well-off ironmonger suddenly died in 1576 (just four years after Donne was born); consequently leaving three children with his wife Elizabeth (daughter of John Heywood). Later on Donne and his younger brother Henry were entered into Hart Hall, University of Oxford. Donne studied at Oxford for three years and then left to study at Cambridge for another three years; but he never managed to do a degree at either because he refused to take the 'oath of supremacy' which immobilized a lot of Catholics from graduating.

    • Word count: 4901
  14. 'The Seduction' Eileen McAuley'To His Coy Mistress' Andrew Marvell Eileen McAuley's 'The Seduction' is set against the bleak surroundings of Merseyside. The

    This is because the two words are contrasting. The word 'blind' is usually associated with visionless. While 'windows' are usually see-through. 'The Seduction' is set in the 'quiet bricks of Birkenhead' suggesting that place that he takes her to is remote. 'Far past the silver stream of traffic through the city' this is implies that they were distant from the busy city leaving them isolated this makes the girl vulnerable. A lot of the language used in 'The Seduction' is symbolic. 'So she followed him there all high white shoes' is an example of symbolic poetry. The shoes are described as white to present a symbol of purity, which is a major theme in the poem.

    • Word count: 1082
  15. A Critical Analysis and Comparison 'Between Come, My Celia' and 'To His Coy Mistress'

    'Come My Celia' was written to try and woo a member of the opposite s*x. This is quite obvious in the first couplet. "Come, my Celia, let us prove, whilst we may, the sports of love"(Lines 1 & 2). These rhymes that are used in the opening couplet are underlying the philosophy 'Carpe Diem' or 'Seize the Day' as some of us are more aware of. The poem is in the form of couplets with each set of lines rhyming. Jonson uses a variety of persuasive techniques throughout the poem. A number of times Jonson hints that any antics in the bedroom will be strictly l**t not love "Why should we defer our joys?"(Line 9).

    • Word count: 1648
  16. Compare the theme of seduction in "To his coy mistress" and "The seduction"

    In "THCM" the male is narrating for example "our" and "we." In "The seduction" neither of the characters narrates. It is written in third person "He lead her to the quite bricks of Birkenhead docks." Throughout the entire poem no names are used "he" and "she." I think this symbolises that the situation is quite common. In both poems our sympathies are with the women. We sympathise with the women in "The seduction" because she becomes pregnant and truly regrets her actions "So she cried that she had missed all the innocence around her."

    • Word count: 780
  17. What are the different methods of seduction employed by the poets in 'To His Coy Mistress' and 'The Flea'? How do you find them effective?

    Much like Marvell, Donne also uses a syllogism as the structural basis of his persuasive argument, however, he also uses the flea as a conceit; a cleverly played on extended metaphor. Premise one, is the first stanza of the poem, in which the flea has taken blood from the man and the woman, which is, "a sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead"; this is effectively premise one summarised, that the woman losing her honour is equivalent to losing a drop of blood to the flea.

    • Word count: 2011
  18. A Comparison of Two Pre-1990 Poems

    If this title had been purposeful some may perceive this as a source indicating how women were treated, just known as a number or an object. Even Shakespeare treated women the same by naming his sonnet a number, but the counter argument to this is that Shakespeare wanted to show how the future generations how the women were taken into account. The view point that Shakespeare just did not title this poem and it was titled later by people who came across the poem without a name. Andrew Marvell's poem 'To His Coy Mistress' was clearly entitled this on purpose.

    • Word count: 1469
  19. Andrew Marvell and William Shakespeare both write their poems featuring love and time, which are the two main themes of the poems. In Andrew Marvell's "to his coy mistress" the love is physical in contrast to William Shakespeare's "sonnet 116"

    Another phrase that Marvell uses is: - "My vegetable Love should grow vaster then empires" This means that Marvell's love will grow fast and deeply like vegetables. This shows more romanticism as he shows us how much he loves her and how deep his love is. In the first stanza Marvell is romantic and caring. In the first quatrain of Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare's opening lines explains that when a couple want to be together nothing should get in their way and true love should never keep changing.

    • Word count: 1366
  20. Donne and Marvell's poems where what linked them together, it was the style that they wrote in, they both fit into a metaphysical group. Both poets include an argument with themselves.

    Marvell and Donne both had been well educated; they were one of few who had this chance, because few families could afford to send their children to school and university. Both poets were very close to well-known people, and when both poets' parents past away Donne and Marvell inherited a fairly large sum of money. Before both poets died they each had a very good and respectable job. If Donne had not have been emaciated, Donne most certainly would have became Bishop in 1630, but Donne died in 1631.

    • Word count: 888
  21. A Comparison Between A Coy Mistress and To The Virgins

    the second is used to shock his reader to convince her that she should come with him and the third verse is an actively persuasive conclusion which tells her that he is the only logical choice for her to take. This means that the short four stanza Herrick poem which is composed entirely of evidence and persuasion to back up his point compares closely to Marvell's who is also persuading his mistress and leaving her no room to defy his argument.

    • Word count: 1136
  22. Compare Sonnet 18 with 'To his Coy Mistress'. Examine the purpose of each poem and consider the effectiveness of the techniques used by the 2 poets to achieve their purposes.

    Therefore we recognise that Marvell wants something from the woman in the poem this makes the poem more argumentative. The titles of the two poems, gives an insight of what the poem is about, 'Shall I Compare Thee...?', this tells the reader that the poem is addressed to someone, this may make the poem more interesting to read and 'To His Coy Mistress' meaning 'To His Girl', this tells us that Marvell has addressed the poem to a specific girl or woman.

    • Word count: 1761
  23. Compare the poems The Beggar Woman by William King and To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell showing how each poem conveys a very different attitude to love and relationships

    He then suggests that before he tries to 'make babies' again, he should get used to taking care of that one. To His Coy Mistress was written at about 1621 to 1678, by Andrew Marvell. This poem is written more like a speech. A man is talking to a woman, saying how much he wants to have s*x with her. He keeps talking about what little time they have got and what will happen if they don't have s*x. He describes what they could do if they had more time - "We would sit down, and think which way To walk, and pass our love's long day."

    • Word count: 1620
  24. These three poems are all based upon time, they all show time passing and how it effects human life and nature. 'to his coy

    All theses show a different view of how he is persuading her to do all these things. The rhythm and rhyme of the poem to reinforce the arguments a used by rhyming couplets, which create a light hearted approach on the poem. The first two lines of the poem relate to the subject of time by saying, that if there was enough time and if life was longer then we could see much more things and, do more things with each other, it also uses the word crime which I used to show that it is no crime for us to do things together.

    • Word count: 1258
  25. Compare the persuasive techniques used in the poems. Say which poems you feel are the most effective and Why?

    Herrick uses phrases such as "his race be run" and "Nearer he's to setting". These are also to express the running out of time with speed. In the first stanza, the first two lines have a positive disposition and in the third and fourth lines the form changes to a negative mood. This pattern is followed throughout all 4 stanzas. The uses of personification are used to signify the passing of time. By using these phrases, it explains that everything is alive but it will soon die. At the start of the third stanza, Herrick talks about your young age when you are fitter and healthier and you have passion and beauty.

    • Word count: 2202

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Compare and Contrast 'To his Coy Mistress' by Andrew Marvell with 'To his Mistress going to bed' by John Donne.

    "In conclusion I found both Donne's and Marvell's poetry quite amusing and in some ways comical, I say this for the reason that, you wouldn't find many men writing love letters and poems to the girl they may adore or even love nowadays, because over time or even five centuries, people change, peoples' habits change and so do the way of their love life. However, as a female, I still find a love letter or even a poem, is far more affectionate than a box of chocolates ever could be, and I also believe that behind every successful man is a woman, as Donne and Marvell have marked their places in history by writing about the mysterious mistress that they fell in love with, and we're reading about in the 21st century."

  • The two poems that I have chosen to compare are, 'To His Coy Mistress' and 'Our Love Now'.

    "Even though these poems were written at very different times, they still have things in common. In both poems the man is trying to convince the woman of something, whether it be the make love with him or to carry on her relationship with him. In 'To His Coy Mistress' the man complements the woman and puts forward a well-constructed argument. In 'Our Love Now' the man compares different aspects of their relationship to different things. The main difference between the two poem is that I 'To His Coy Mistress' we do not find out the woman's reply to the argument but in 'Our Love Now' we find out that his argument is not successful and the woman ends her relationship with him. Alex Warham English"

  • Compare the theme of seduction in "To his coy mistress" and "The seduction"

    "In conclusion it is clear that both are poems are about a man seducing a woman in the hope that she will sleep with him. I believe the biggest difference between the poems is to do with the date when they were written. Both time eras had completely different attitudes to sex, which is why the men go about a different way to seduce the women The poem that I find more persuasive and effective is "THCM" because the man actually loved the lady "I would love you ten years before the flood" and his intentions were slightly more pure it seems, compared to the man in "the seduction" who simply took advantage of the woman and didn't care for her one bit. I also think that it is very cleverly written and is interesting how each stanza represents a different time frame."

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