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english 1b

by: Emmely Canela
Emmely Canela
Loyola Marymount University
GPA 3.7

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Analysis of "To his Coy Mistress" By Andrew Marvell
intro asian/pacific american studies
Curtiss rooks
Class Notes
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Emmely Canela on Saturday August 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to APAM 1117 at Loyola Marymount University taught by Curtiss rooks in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see intro asian/pacific american studies in Asian American Studies at Loyola Marymount University.


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Date Created: 08/13/16
Canela 1 Emmely Canela Dr. Leiby English 1B 26 April 2016 Chivalry  In the poem “To His Coy Mistress”, by Andrew Marvell, the speaker of the poem is speaking to a woman who has no name. Throughout the poem, the speaker is telling the woman about all the wonderful things he would do to and with her, if they had more time. However, since death is swiftly approaching, no more time should be wasted and they should be together now. While the narrator appears to present a sincere motive, his language/ poetic devices reveal a more deceitful motive.  In the first stanza, the speaker describes all the wonderful, romantic things that could occur between them, if time would allow. Throughout this stanza, the use of hyperboles and allusions are used to flatter his “coy mistress”. He tells her that given the luxury of time, he would take her on dates, compliment her, love her for “ten years before the flood” all the way until the conversion of the Jews. In the eleventh line, he refers to his love as “vegetable love” (Marvell, 11) that grows “vaster than empires” (12).  He tells her would spend hundreds of years adoring and praising her and her physical features because she deserves nothing less than the best; which may appear to be sincere and romantic. He tells her he would love her ten years before the flood which alludes to the story of Noah in the bible. In addition to the ten years prior to the flood, he would love her from then until the conversion of the Jews. The conversion of the Jews is another allusion, which describes the conversion of Jews to Christianity. The time Canela 2 between the two events is significantly large and in using these to measure his love, he hopes to win her over. He uses hyperboles again when referring to his love as vegetable love and saying that it will grow vaster or wider than empires. In saying this, he is telling her that it may take a long time for his love for her to grow, but when it does, it will cover much more than any empire could. By the end of the poem, he exaggerates the amount of time he could take to compliment her forehead and breasts. He tells her that he could praise her for a hundred years and could take another two hundred years to adore each of her breasts. He would love to give her all the time in the world and tell her how beautiful she is to him but he blames time for not being able to do so. In the next stanza he attempts to persuade her to seize the moment before death arrives.  The speaker in the poem seems to offer a legitimate argument for seizing the moment.  In the second stanza, he (the speaker) tells her that “time’s winged chariot” (22) or death, is approaching. Along with death comes aging, which means she will not stay beautiful much longer. If she does not have sex with him, her virginity will be taken by worms. His alleged love and admiration of her will be turned “into ashes” (30) just like her. He presents a reasonable case for persuading her to be/sleep with him. There is no point for her to save her virginity for a moment that may never come. Death can come so abruptly so why not seize the moment. The woman is described as being beautiful but beauty does not last. The longer she waits, the more her beauty fades, lessening her chances of finding the love she is saving herself for. Her time and virginity will be wasted, only to be taken by worms in the ground. To live a life deprived of the pleasures of the world, is to waste a life. He wants her to understand that death stops for no man or experience. The tone and mood change however, when he addresses death. In the stanza leading to this one, he talks about the time, energy and love her would invest in her if they had Canela 3 the time. Once he addresses the topic of death, he tells her that after she is dead, his love for her will also die. In saying this, his intentions become clearer as he threatens her more than he warns her.  The second stanza expresses threats more than it does a warning. He reminds her that her beauty will soon fade and she will die soon. He realizes that his flattery in the first stanza does not work so he switches his tactic to scare her into having sex with him. Both of them are aware that death will come but he uses that fear to his own advantage. During the 1650’s, around the time the poem was written, women valued their beauty. A woman during this time was dominated by males. They were “owned” by their fathers and then later by their “husbands”. The virtue they had to offer to possible suitors was purity. Women were expected to stay pure until married. If she waits too long, she will find herself alone. The virginity she values so much and is saving for someone special would be given to the worms. The speaker tells her that if she doesn’t sleep with him right now and seize the moment, there’s a possibility she will die alone and ugly. He makes no effort to spare her the reality of death. He proceeds to tell her that her pureness will “go to dust” (29). Once she is old and ugly, his love for her will die. He really only loves her superficially. Without her physical youth and beauty, she is nothing to him. The reason he wants her now is because she is at her peak. She is young, beautiful and pure. He wants to take that pureness from her and take advantage of the physical qualities time has blessed her with. The speaker begins to show his true colors and sheds light on the fact that he is not the noble man he presents himself to be in the first stanza, but is instead selfish.  The final stanza is used to finally tell her what he wants from her. He does not want to waste the little time they have but instead wants to have sex.  He does not want to waste time Canela 4 running from it but instead wants to “make him [time] run” (46). Instead of being afraid of death and waiting for it to slowly come, he suggests that they make time go faster by having fun and pursuing their passions. The best way to speed time up is through sex. The speaker of the poem reveals his selfish intentions. He could have told her that he did not want to die without having had her or that she should sleep with him now in case they die tomorrow and then if tomorrow comes, he will give her all the things he said he would if time allowed. However, he just asks for sex and spends a great deal of time trying to convince her there is not time to fall in love and get to know each other. He is selfish in that he wastes her time telling her about the time they do not have as well as for asking for what he wants without being willing to give her what she wants. One can assume from all the things he tells her he would give her, that she wants a romantic relationship not just a physical one. He could give her what she wants to get what he wants, instead he tells her time does not allow her to have her way, but it does allow him to. In the last stanza, he suggests they speed up time by having sex. In the first stanza he tells her there is not much time, so they need to skip the romance and go have sex. He is selfish because he wants the “little” time they have to be spent having as much sex possible instead of having sex and having the relationship she is saving her virginity for. He is selfish for trying to threaten her into giving up her purity.   He is selfish for trying to undermine one of the few traits women had for themselves to trade on in that time period.  The poem is relevant in this day and age as it reflects the values and “dating” tactics of our society. There is a saying that “chivalry is dead” and while some refute the saying altogether and believe that men [or women] can still be chivalrous, others prove the point. The music within our society today promotes sex and the objectification of women. Rap songs are notorious for Canela 5 promoting hook up in songs such as “toot it and boot it”, which describes using someone just for sex and then “booting them” or never seeing them again. The speaker of the poem wants to have sex with her but that is it. He does not wish to invest his time trying to get to know her. Throughout the poem, he does not mention her personality or her intelligence. He sticks to her physical features and dismisses any virtuous qualities she may possess such as purity. We live in a society today where saving your virginity for marriage is unrealistic and women who try to save themselves for someone special are considered to be prudes. The word “prude” has taken a negative connotation. We are living in a society where music and other forms of media are telling us that “playing” people is cool. A trend on social media, with the hashtag “waste his/her time” is encouraging people to pretend to be in love with someone just to hurt them before they can hurt you. While the speaker in the poem is not trying to avenge a hypothetical future heartbreak, he is essentially wasting her time. He implies that she is a prude in a negative way and instead of doing something she thinks to be pure; he tries to convince her that she is going to die alone if she continues to stick to her morals. All in all, while the narrator may appear to be sincere, his intentions reveal his selfishness.  Canela 6 Work Cited Andrew Marvell. "To His Coy Mistress." Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry.    Arp, Thomas R. and Laurence Perrine. 12th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College, 2 006. N. pag. Print.


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