During a first serious read through of "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love", one will notice the theme of the poem is going to be romantic and about the subject of love. This pastoral poem basically describes one lover attempting to convince another lover to be with them. This is demonstrated by the line "Come live with me and be my love"(Marlowe:5) that is mentioned more than once. The shepard in the poem is in love with a woman from an implied higher class. He courageously attempts to win her heart through poetry, and sincerely believes that love is all one needs to have a good life. His love for her in particular. Being a shepherd, he is poor, and cannot afford all the worldly things
his lover desires. Because he is unable to provide her with what she is used to, he promises her gifts created by nature.
Now that we have a basic idea of the poems theme and background, it is important to note that there is a Marxist/social criticism approach that can be taken here with this poem. The "Passionate Shepherd" may not be as innocent as we think. In his life, Marlowe ...
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... does she have her say in how she really feels about the shepherd? Perhaps there is some forms of social control or social expectation and obligation going on within the poem.
In conclusion, there are many ways to interpret the poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love " other than using the Marxist/social criticism I used. The poem is a nice read and one can really notice the differences in the time period that it was written which was the sixteenth century. One difference about this poem and love poems today is that sometimes there is more than one person speaking of their love. I cannot name off any at the moment however I have come across some that are gender equal and not merely lustful so to speak. Hopefully, some light has been thrown on the social implications represented and demonstrated in "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love".
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