A Comparison of Persuasive Techniques in 'To His Coy Mistress' and 'An Answer To A Love Letter'
'To His Coy Mistress' is a poem written by Andrew Marvell (1621 -
1678). From the poem, it can be seen that he is trying to persuade his
mistress to have sex with him. Although the male persona that reveals
this story, the intent of Marvell was probably for humour and as
entertainment for others. 'An Answer To A Love Letter' is another
poem, written by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689 - 1762), but in
contrast to Marvell's, it is used to reject an admirer's interest and
could be seen as a reply. The poem describes how a female persona
declines an admirer. While this story takes place, Montagu
simultaneously rebukes men in general. This inclination may have been
caused by her bad experiences in marriage. Both poems use persuasion,
although for different purposes.
Andrew Marvell was born at Winestead-in-Holderness, Yorkshire, on
March 31, 1621. At 3 years old, he moved to Hull where his father,
Reverend Andrew Marvell became a lecturer at Holy Trinity Church.
Andrew Marvell was educated at Hull Grammar School and studied at
Trinity College in Cambridge. Two poems that he had written, one in
Greek and one in Latin, were printed in 1637. The next year he was
accepted as a Scholar of Trinity College and took his B.A. degree.
Within a few days, his mother had died and after his father died also
within 2 years, he left Cambridge. It was in this period, after he
started travelling in Europe, that he wrote 'To His Coy Mistress'.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was born in 1689, the eldest daughter of the
Duke of Kingston. Her family were wealthy, but not concerned with Lady
Mary's education. All Lady Mary's learning came from her efforts. She
taught herself Latin by reading a Latin dictionary, found in her
parents' library where she also found many works of literature. She
had a husband chosen for her by her parents, as was the tradition at
the time. She was unhappy in her marriage and eloped in 1712 with
Edward Wortley Montagu, an extremely wealthy man who she fell in love
with. In May 1713, she gave birth to a son, but her marriage was still
making her unhappy. After Queen Anne died in 1714, she was intrigued
by Turkey and began to learn all things Turkish. She returned to
England and was known to have a way of inoculation for smallpox that
she had learnt on her travels in Turkey. Edward Jenner, a more widely
known scientist, took the credit for this.
Of the many persuasive techniques used in both Marvell's and Montagu's
poems, gentle persuasion is one of them. Marvell starts his poem with
a soft, gentle tone of voice:
"If we had world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, would be no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day."