Havisham And To His Coy Mistress

1135 words - 5 pages

The poem, ‘Havisham’ by Britain’s contemporary poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, focuses on the bitter and resentful Miss Havisham from the book, ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens. It tells the story of love coming to an acrimonious end, where Miss Havisham is deserted by her fiancé at the altar, on the day of her wedding. In addition, the poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’ written in the metaphysical genre by political satire Andrew Marvell, who is from the 1600’s. He writes in the point of view of an individual expressing his desire, love and yearning for a women, who he finds to be coy, and feeling that they will run out of time if they do not get together soon. Both of these poems explore various areas of love and relationships, using numerous literary techniques and structural devices, giving off very divergent impressions of these motifs.

Duffy conveys the poem as a monologue, and her first three words set the mood for the entire poem. She begins with the words ‘Beloved sweetheart bastard’ which is an oxymoron, meaning that a set of terms that contradict each other. The juxtaposition here allows the reader to see how close love and hate are intertwined in this poem. Miss Havisham is incapable of progressing with her life and spends a lot of time obsessing over this heartbreak, showing the reader that she has become confused, and blinded with rage over time causing her to experience love and hate as similar things, showing that her impression of love has become distorted.

This is further explored when she says ‘I've dark green pebbles for eyes’ this imagery, which is also a metaphor, is fairly powerful and conjures up a fearsome image in the mind. The words ‘dark green’ can also be, according to colour psychology, a connotation for jealousy, envy, and ambition. This could mean that she has made it her ambition to kill her ex-fiancé, and is envious that he is living a happy life. In addition, since eyes are commonly referred to as windows of the soul, the fact that she now has ‘pebbles’ for eyes, makes it clear that she now has a soul figuratively made of stone. From the first two lines, it is obvious that the mood for this poem is dark and indignant. However, in ’To his coy mistress’ that is not the case.

Marvell opens the poem with the words ‘Had we but world enough, and time/This coyness, Lady, were no crime’ This makes it obvious that person in the poem, indeed sees modesty and coyness as a crime, which gives us the impression that we are to love openly, and that shyness and modestly is not endorsed in a relationship. There is also the mention of time, meaning that he wills that they would get together before time runs out, and their lives end. This poem centres on wooing a lover through temptation and persuasion, as they are trying to convince the other about the qualities and advantages of having a relationship. There is contrast about the fact that, ‘Havisham’ follows a darker, much more sinister route of allowing bitterness to...

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