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Formalistic Approach To His Coy Mistress By Andrew Marvell

990 words - 4 pages

The formalistic approach to an open text allows the reader to devour the poem or story and break down all the characteristics that make it unique. The reader is able to hear the text rather than read it, and can eventually derive a general understanding or gist of the text. "According to the Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature "when all the words, phrases, metaphors, images, and symbols are examined in terms of each other and of the whole, any literary text worth our efforts will display its own internal logic" (Geurin 75)." When utilizing the formalistic approach, the reader must search in and out of the lines for point of view, form, imagery, structure, symbolism, style, texture, and so on. Using the general theme of time, it is important to focus on structure, style, and imagery found in Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress".

Structure, a major tool stressed in this poem, tends to rearrange the text in a large-scale way. In "To His Coy Mistress", the reader should focus on the most significant types of structure: stanza and temporal. In other words, time and chronological order assemble the whole meaning of the text throughout the poem. Although the story contains seduction and intimacy, which is portrayed in the title alone, it is merely a cry for two lovers to be together before time runs out. Temporally, the man first explains to the woman how he would love her if he only had the time. The man's sincerity is truly expressed when Marvell writes, "Had we but world enough, and time...I would love you ten years before the flood...nor would I love at lower rate," (373: 1, 7-8, 20). It seems that the man genuinely cares for the lady, or is he secretly seducing her into bed? Taking a look at the second stanza, the reader notices the man's mood change from heartfelt to hasty. Marvell takes note of this impatience when he states, "But at my back I always hear/Time's winged chariot hurrying near," (21). Clearly, this man only possesses selfish motives and will not wait for the woman to make a decision. The anxiety of the man becomes visible when the poem states, "And yonder all before us lie/Deserts of vast eternity," (Marvell 23-24). After offering the woman valid reasons for lack of time, he decides to proposition her in the third stanza. Instead of asking for the woman's permission, he now chooses to call for action. Marvell illustrates his plan when he writes, "Now let us sport us while we may...and tear our pleasures with rough strife," (37, 43). Evidently, the poem successfully utilizes stanza and temporal structure to display the effect of time as well as the motives of the characters.

Style also reflects the theme of time by integrating remarkable word choice and repetition into the poem "To His Coy Mistress". For example, the male in this story consistently speaks of "time", "love", "age", and "vast" as innuendo that...

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