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Marvel To His Mistress: Carpe Diem!

1052 words - 4 pages

Marvell to His Mistress: Carpe Diem!

In Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress," he's arguing for affection. The object of the speaker's desire wants to wait and take the relationship slow, while the speaker pushes for instant gratification. This persuasive poem makes the point that time waits for no one and it's foolish for two lovers to postpone a physical relationship.

Marvell's piece is structured as a poem but flows as a classical argument. He uses the three stanzas to address the issues of time, love, and sex. In doing so, he creates his own standpoint and satirizes his audience in the process. Using appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos; logical reasoning; and even a hint of the Rogerian technique - Marvell proves that acting now is essential. The logical argument for the "carpe diem" theme is built up from beginning to end.

At the start, the first stanza of the poem is full of flattery. This is the appeal to pathos. The speaker is using the mistress's emotions and vanity to gain her attention. By complimenting her on her beauty and the kind of love she deserves, he's getting her attention. In this first stanza, the speaker claims to agree with the mistress - he says he knows waiting for love provides the best relationships. It feels quasi-Rogerian, as the man is giving credit to the woman's claim, he's trying to see her point of view, he's seemingly compliant. He appears to know what she wants and how she should be loved. This is the appeal to ethos. The speaker seems to understand how relationships work, how much time they can take, and the effort that should be put forth. The woman, if only reading stanza one, would think her and the speaker are in total agreement.

This idea, however, is fleeting as stanza two acts not only as a refutation for stanza one, but also as evidence for stanza three. In it, the readers sees the reality of a mortal life. The contrast between the serene, ideal world in stanza one and the harshness of death in stanza two creates an appeal to pathos again. The speaker uses the mistress's emotions of fear - scaring her by mentioning her fading beauty and lost youth. These ideas refute the first stanza. They show how quick time flies, and that once it's gone, it's gone forever. The mistress is meant to be full of hopelessness upon hearing the description of life after death, or lack thereof. The purity of her virginity is pointless in the afterlife.

Following this point, Marvell presents a solution for life's quick end. Instead of waiting for love, the mistress should seize the day and act now. Since she will not be desired after she's dead, and her virginity will be meaningless, the speaker argues for her to have sex with him in the present, while she is still alive and can enjoy it. Marvell presents this as a conquest, a game for lovers to playas they rush against time.

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