Themes of To His Coy MIstress by Andrew Marvell
Length: 540 words (1.5 double-spaced pages)
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To His Coy Mistress is an argument poem about a man trying to persuade his shy mistress to give into his physical desires. He starts off by saying that if he had all the money and time in the world he would spend it all on dating and impressing her. As the poem progresses, he becomes more and more urgent and forceful with his words. The man begins to tell her that she will be old and ?dusty? soon so she should just give into him at that moment. He essentially tells her now or never. However, the larger idea of the poem is not about having sex before you get old, it is about seizing the moment and not taking time for granted.
At the beginning of the poem the man tries to persuade her by explaining to her that, if he could, he would devote all of his time to her. He tells her he will spend ?thirty thousand? years adoring her body, because that is the state she deserves. He also tells her that they could flirt over a vast area, from the Indian?s Ganges to England?s own Humber. Space and time are exaggerated in an attempt to impress and persuade her into his selfish desires. The speaker is not really going to spend any time with her, he is solely driven by his lustful desires and has no intention of staying with her. He begins by saying he will wait for her, but the following lines prove otherwise. He makes it clear that he always hears a ?winged chariot hurrying near? and that in a few years she will no longer be beautiful. With the lines, ?The grave?s a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace? he brings up the idea that if they do not act on their love, she might die without any love at all.
Although the author is without a doubt talking about sex, the theme of the poem is really to seize the moment and not take time for granted. The author keeps a lot of emphasis on death and the grave. He is trying to tell her that she will not have eternity to look as youthful and beautiful as she does now, so she should value her looks while she still has them. By talking about the worms in her grave, he is trying to say that her virginity and beauty will do her no good there, but in this present day and time she can get some use out of them.
He tells her that her days are short, so she should not wallow in uncertainty.
The speakers tone shifts throughout the poem. He begins his pursuit by flattering his shy mistress, and then tries to scare her into giving him to his desires, and then in his last attempt to win her over, he says that they may not be able to control time, but they can control what they do with their time. The theme becomes most obvious in those last lines. It is true that we will all grow old and die, but we can certainly make the most out of the time we have here.