Compare and contrast ‘To his coy mistress’ by Andrew Marvell and ‘The Flea’ by John Donne

October 8, 2017 September 1st, 2019 Free Essays Online for College Students

Both ‘To his coy mistress’ and ‘The Flea’ are poems about seduction, there is three parts to each poem. Written in the early 16th century. The both argue the case for taking their relationships further with their mistress’. Both poets are metaphorical poets and write dramatic monologues.

In ‘to his coy mistress’ Marvell argues his case for furthering his relationship with ‘coy mistress’ and that time is ‘hurrying near’ so they should take it further before its too late and they are no longer alive. To make his point of argument he applies this point in three parts. The first being about the state of argument the second being everything to do and to come with the argument along with his feelings and the third part being the conclusion of the argument. Whilst making the argument the poet uses conceits that are illogical comparisons along with couplets, which were lines that rhymed and were popular and used quite frequently back then.

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The first two lines of the poem set the tone of showing that Marvell was arguing the case of seduction and motivating their relationship, ‘Were no crime’ and that time was running out. He is also saying that ‘his cot mistress’ should hide her shyness and do something that she knows is wrong. The poet makes all different conceits through out the poem but in the first part he makes four comparisons. These are, comparing his fantasy to a river through by the ‘Indian Ganges’ side shoulds’t rubies find’.

Marvell compares fantasy again but instead of any river he compares it to the river in which he grew up around ‘……of Humber would complain.’ He compares time to religion and the change which will never happen, ‘and you should, if you please, refuse ’till the conversions of the Jews”. He could spend as long as it takes for the Jews’ to change religion trying to persuade her to consummate their relationship but she will not win.

The last comparison is where the poet compares his genitals to a ‘vegetable’. ‘My vegetable love should grow vaster then empires, and more slow’. The poet is saying that his love is like a vegetable which never stops growing. Through the poem, Marvels flattering ‘his coy mistress’ by expressing his feelings towards her.

The mood of the poem changes in the second part, it becomes a poem about a world where time is limited and death reigns upon them. The poet uses imagery to describe these feelings, for example

‘Times winged chariot hurrying near’- this shows that time is running out, he uses a ‘winged chariot’ to explain this because they are soon to be in the chariot but as they waste time it flies further and further away from them, so they are going to have to catch up.

‘Deserts of vast eternity’-this also show’s that the time they take is too long and that time is running out. The deserts of vast eternity suggest that Marvell views the after life not only as empty but also as the end of ‘beins’. He does not see death as a one person being accepted in to heaven.

‘Thy beauty shall no more be found, nor, in my marble vault shall sound my echoing song’. By this imagery Marvell is saying that death reigns over everyone and soon it will be them. By ‘marble vault’ the poet means where he will be after he has passed away and by ‘echoing song’ he means what the poem says.

‘And into ashes all my lust’-this means cause the fire of virginity to burn out and turn into ashes, so take it will you still can.

I think this poem is about seduction but more about Marvell being worried and frightened of death. As he doesn’t know what will happen after he dies.

The poems are very different from each other, by the way they are set out and by the way they are written. Marvell writes about his thoughts of which he hides inside. Whereas John Donne is not as cruel as Marvell and isn’t as confusing.

‘The Flea’ by John Donne is also about seduction, this is the same as Marvell’s poem. He is trying to make her make love to him and to loose her virginity, but she doesn’t want to do it.

The poet uses the flea as his argument because it has both of their blood of which it now has mingled together so they are one anyway. Donne uses the flea as the argument for in the flea they are one person and the flea has taken her virginity from her already. ‘And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be; confess it, this cannot be said a sin, or a shame or a loss of maidenhead…’.

The poet is addressing his lady in the poem as the flea and he is just going to help her fly in a way.

He uses religious imagery to help his argument just like Marvell. Some examples of this imagery are:

* Using sacrilege against her by saying that she will be coming against the church by killing the flea in which their bloods have been mingled.

* He also uses a religious comparison that within the flea where there bloods have mingled it is like him already taken her virginity and them being married.

* The poet refers to religion because they were very religious and it makes a very strong argument and because it is endorsed by god which has a guilty effect on her.

The poet also uses recurrence in the poem to get across the key words and feelings. Some examples of the words and feelings the poet uses as recurrence are:

* ‘Me it sucked first and now it sucks thee’

* ‘Or marriage bed, and marriage is temple is’

This repetition has the effects of a strong argument and repeats the key words and feelings in which he wants the reader to hear.

The poet explains his comparisons by using hyperboles’. An example of a hyperbole in the poem is, ‘this flea is you and I, and the is our marriage bed, and marriage temple is’.

The poet ends the poem by saying ’tis true, then learn how false, fears be; just so much honour, when thou yeilds’t to me, I will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee’. This means the he is trying to say don’t kill the flea otherwise you will be killing our love and will be giving up on us and me.

I agree that both poems are about seduction but marvels poem is also about Marvell’s worry of death and what will happen after he dies. My reasons are written in my essay, as I found that way easier to explain it as I went along.


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