Sexuality in "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Flea"

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Let's talk about sex; in today's culture one cannot get through the day without viewing billboards, commercials, advertisements, movies, and talk shows which in one way or another are related to sex or the art of seduction. It is believed by many that the current generation is undoubtedly the most sexually explicit generation by far. However, it is not that the current generation is the more occupied with sex than past generations, but, that this generation lacks the finesse that was an essential component in the art of seduction for generations past. Furthermore, seduction has been the game most played throughout the centuries, as males endeavor to convince or entice the fairer sex to share their beds. As an example, consider Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" as well as Donne's "The Flea," the speakers make a sinful proposal, which is cunningly backed up with an extremely broad-minded argument that is presented to each female after the speaker's primary request has been declined. The methods of persuasion employed by each are completely different but are unified in their purpose: to coax or trick the fair maiden into saying yes.

Though both authors present superbly developed arguments, Marvell's has a nicer, more polished style. In "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Flea," one might realize that in both speakers he can find an embodiment of the craftiness of men on the hunt for their prey. The Speaker, in both poems, makes an unassuming but declinable offer for sex to his maiden of choice, and, upon rejection, each male embarks on a fluent yet rhetorical argument as to why the maiden should embrace and accept his simple offer of passion. For Marvell, the argument remains t...

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...as this flea's death took life from three." (Lines 26-27) No matter what the age, every person, man or woman, wants to feel desirable. Too often it is that very desire that leads one to suffer a grievous error in judgment. However, while both man and woman can lay claim to this error, it has and will continue to be viewed differently, by society at large, in the harsh light of gender. A man, then and now, is allowed to "sow his wild oats" and society him for doing so. Unfortunately, let a woman do the same and she is labeled as promiscuous, among other not so flattering terms. Marvell and Donne, respectively, have captured the very essence of a struggle older than time itself, female versus male, and sexuality versus virtue. So, as one can see, obsession with sexuality, is not a generational matter; in fact sexuality exists independently of both time and place.

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