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Seduction In 'To His Coy Mistress' By Andrew Marvell

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“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell is a descriptive poem spoken by a man who attempts to seduce a woman into sleeping with him. Noticeably the speaker’s idea of typical courtship is extremely skewed. The speaker mocks the lady and threatens her. This is not what one would find a very effective way of temptation. While “To His Coy Mistress” might appear at first sight to be a poem of seduction, it is really a dramatic meditation on the fact that we live constrained by “world and time,” and a prescription for what to do about it.
The first stanza sets the tone of mockery. The speaker uses metaphors, hyperboles, irony and imagery to seduce his coy mistress. He begins his poem of seduction with an insult: “Had we but world enough, and time, / This coyness, lady, were no crime.” He calls her a criminal for being so reluctant when they are constrained by world and time. To him, it is a misconduct to not jump right into his arms when they have so little time to live. Since this lady does not immediately throw herself upon him, he tries his hand at flattery. “My vegetable love should grow” is a slightly exaggerated image of his love. He uses it to compare how a vegetable, if nourished and cared for, will continue to grow, just like his love for this lady even if it is slowly. He asks her to imagine an incomprehensible amount of time when he says “Two hundred to adore each breast/ But thirty thousand to the rest” The effect of this imagery is to bring her outside of the immediate moment. Many of the hyperboles are so outrageous; the tone of mockery is predominant over the tone of seduction.
The speaker seems to have become anxious in the second stanza. The first couplet “But at my back I always hear / Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying ...

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...oing so, he is saying he this lady deserves to be praised in such a foolish way, and he would be the fool to do so. (prof. zichy. Lecture) When the tone of the second stanza shifts towards a serious note, the man begins threatening the poor woman with images of “worms shall try That long-preserved virginity”. The change of tine from playful to threatening makes the speaker look extremely foolish. He does not realize these threats may potentially scare the lady away from him thus contradicting his seduction prior.
Even though the speaker of “To His Coy Mistress” has an intense fear of growing old, he does have a few valid points of interest in his attempted seduction. Carpe diem, to seize the day, is his remedy for being constrained by world and time. He believes they should live in the here and now, and enjoy life while they can, before their bodies restrict them.
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