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A Comparison Of ‘To His Coy Mistress’ By Andrew Marvell And ‘To His Mistress Going To Bed’ By John Donne

3176 words - 13 pages

A Comparison of ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell and ‘To His Mistress Going to Bed’ by John Donne

‘To His Coy Mistress’ and ‘To His Mistress Going to Bed’ are both
poems about men seducing women. They centre around sex rather than
love or romance. Sixteenth and seventeenth century attitudes to love
and relationships were much stricter going as far as wealthy people
asking their perspective lovers to court them via love poem or letter.
Though this has changed from the sixteenth and seventeenth century to
today, little else has. It is still most common for a man to initiate
a relationship, and men are still perceived as the most sex obsessed.
However, even though we are led to believe that their attitudes were
more conservative, the attitudes conveyed in these poems are very raw
and primitive in the way that they make sex the ultimate. The men are
desperate begging the women for sex. However, as we know from other
poems (such as Cousin Kate and The Seduction) men valued purity above
most other things (when considering marriage). So we could say that
these men were hypocritical for wanting their women pure for marriage
but willing to have sex with them pre-marriage!

These poems are both themed on love, sex, romance and seduction.
However, the attitudes towards their relationships and lovers are
completely diverse. Andrew Marvell uses all forms of persuasion both
negative and positive to get her into bed with him. On the other hand
John Donne doesn’t seem to have to persuade his lover to sleep with
him at all, it seems that she is already willing. Andrew Marvell
appears to be incredibly desperate, but, in an unrelated way quite
self-assured. Marvell says, “Had we had but world enough, and time,
this coyness, lady, were be no crime”. This suggests that he is
confident that she wants to have sex with him but she is just playing
hard to get, enjoying the chase! He seems to think that his lover is
naïve because he uses false flattery and promises her all that she
wants, tells her everything that she wants to hear. He tells her “Two
hundred to adore each breast: But thirty thousand to the rest”. Thus
is an example of both, he is saying that this is what she is worth and
this is the value she will have so long a she sleeps with him. He
begins trying to persuade her with luxurious imagery (like the Indian
Ganges and rubies). He then progresses on to scare tactics, telling
her that she soon will be dead so she must make the most of it whilst
she still can! Although he doesn’t use those specific words he makes
his meaning pretty obvious with phrases like, “the graves a fine and
private place, But none, I think do there embrace”. However in ‘To His
Mistress Going to Bed’ there is no persuasion just description. This
couple seem to already be established and John Donne’s lover does not
...

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