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Andrew Marvell attempts to win his “Coy Mistress” over and ultimately convince her into unleashing her passion and turning over her virginity. He is playing on a women’s vulnerability of love and admiration, fear of the loss of beauty and youthfulness and ultimately he clinches his argument by appealing to passion and lust. He is displaying a sense of urgency, to further his persuasion and has placed limitations on the availability of time in order to increase pressure.
In Marvell’s first stanza, he appeals to his mistress by painting a vivid picture of love and courting that would take place if time where available. There are no limitations in his first attempt at persuasion “vaster than empires and more slow”. The imagery used of adoring of her eyes and breasts, the passing of their “long loves day” and her “deserving” of this love are purely to convincingly permit her to see him as a gentleman, sincere in his affection.
The author then turns into his second argument or tactic of urging that is less “genteel”(Evans) and “more graphic”(Evans), as he seems to become increasingly desperate. In the second stanza he is using fear, almost threatening her, as he portrays what would happen if they allowed time to run out. He warns “her beauty shall no more be found” and alludes to her dying a virgin. Certain necessity arises as he begins to relate death, ashes and worms to his loss of lust and time.
As Marvell enters the third stanza he draws upon passion “at every pore with instant fires”. His “philosophical proposal”(Evans) that as lovers they can turn the tables of time and “thorough the iron gates of life”. He is drawing upon his earlier limitations of time and fear to convince her to be rebellious and give in “tear (their) pleasures with rough strife”, while youthfulness is still present.
Andrew Marvell’s arguments are related and are commonly based on lack of time. He shows her he is capable of love and then presents her with dark images of what would be if youthfulness eluded them, as he ends his final attempt of influence alluring to ravenous passion.
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Marvell, Andrew. “To His Coy Mistress.” 1681. Literature and Society: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Non-fiction, 3rd ed. New Jersey: Pretence Hall,1999. Annas/Rosen pp.357-358.
Evans,Nick. “Summary: Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”. 1999
Access: October 23,1999.