To His Coy Mistress


My Grandmother is what some would consider a feminist. She believes that woman have the potential to do anything but men hold them back. My Gram has very strong feelings about a woman’s role and how men play into it. Being extremely close with my Grandma has imprinted these views and ideas on to me. My Grandmother tells me that I can do anything I want and I don’t need a man to help me. She also tells me that I can be “choosy” and not to settle for less than perfect. Her last major view is don’t let a man disrespect you in any form. Having these views when reading, “To His Coy Mistress” these views shone through with my interpretation. This poem by Andrew Marvell, is a poem that is open for interpretation. One can view it as that the male character is madly in love with this woman and he is telling her to seize the day. The other way to view it, the way that I view it, is that the male character is a just a man looking for sex from this woman. Never the less, the poem contains many components that make it so beautiful.

“To His Coy Mistress” is about a man pleading with a woman to have sexual intercourse with him. He persistently tells her that there is no time and they have to do it as soon as possible. The male character in this poem, to me, is generally looking for sex. I do think he loves her but wants the sexual aspect of their relationship more than anything. This poem has three parts. The first part is him saying if they had enough time they would have the world. He also tells the girl that if there were was enough time, they would be able to take it slow, but there is not so they need to do it now. In the second part he is saying they don’t have enough time and death is coming. The third part is saying that now they have to satisfy each other.

I believe the theme of this work is “carpe diem”, live each day in Latin. Marvell’s main goal in this poem is to tell the reader to live you life to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow holds. No matter how one interprets what the male character is saying to the mistress or what he expects of it, the theme is live your life and do not dawn on the past. I believe Andrew Marvell’s life and his past up to writing this poem has a great influence on and a main reason why he wrote it.

Marvell received a scholarship to Trinity College in 1638. A few days later he received the news of his mother’s death. Unfortunately, two years later his father passed away as well. After undergoing these tragedies at a young age, Marvell didn’t give up and throw his life away. Marvell continued to be very successful through the duration of his life. He was fully involved in politics and wrote several successful poems and earned a very good salary. A lot of people would give up and waste their lives away after going through what he went through. Marvell’s message in this poem is to not let life get you down when something bad happens. Live each day like it is your last because eventually good will come, and live it fully because you don’t know when your end will come.

Marvell makes use of allusion, metaphor, and imagery in order to convey a mood of endurance and to explicate the theme of carpe diem. Marvell makes reference to past and future events on a scale. His allusions to religious scripture early on in the poem give the impression of vast ages passing, spanning most of time itself. The period from ten years before the flood until the conversion of the Jews crosses a massive amount of time. Another such technique is the metaphor. Lines 11-12 read, "My vegetable love should grow / Vaster than empires, and more slow." The first line makes the narrator's love a slow-growing vegetable. Such a growth would take far longer than humans to live and be greater than an entire empire. Personally I think that Marvell‘s attempt at portraying his theme is the imagery. "We would sit down, and think which way / To walk, and pass our long love's day" is free of the pressures of age. Not only are they walking, which implies calmness, but they are sitting down and considering which way to walk. This carefree attitude is unusual in this poem because its entire goal is to tell the reader to live each day because you don’t know when your last day is. The theme is also repeated through out the poem that there is no time. “To His Coy Mistress”, is written in iambic tetrameter. It is also written in an A, A, B, B rhyme scheme.

Marvell took the concept of carpe diem and transformed it into a beautiful poem with many techniques that supported it. The male character was trying to express that time was limited in live to the female character. The interpretation of whether he was sincere about his love for her or just another man looking for something sexually is up to the reader. The main concept of the poem is to live your life, carpe diem.

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