Love in 'To His Coy Mistress'

Term Paper, 2003

8 Pages, Grade: 1,7

Abstract or Introduction

In Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress the poem's speaker attempts to persuade "his coy
mistress" to have sex with him. As “he is aware of his imminent death as he is of hers” he
wants his desire to be fulfilled here and now. Thus I introduce my thesis as follows: Andrew
Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress argues that, in a world where death rules supreme and time is
limited, life’s true meaning and purpose can only be found in physical (i.e. sexual) pleasure.
My thesis is based on the analysis of the three sections which complete a logical
argumentative pattern (“Had we . . .”, “But . . .”, “Now therefore . . .”)
In the first section (l. 1- l. 20) the speaker tells his mistress what they could achieve in their
relationship if they had time. It is a very traditional and religious view of love.
However, the subjunctive and conditional structures in the first section indicate: They
do not have time. The coyness of the Lady is a crime. The result of these two points is that the
speaker is not interested in spiritual or romantic but just in physical, sexual love immediately.
This “false vision of history-as-courtship”, “false vision of endless time and endless
courtship” is shown in a satirical, cynical and ironic way. Marvell uses a lot of allusions to
the bible illustrating the huge dimensions of “world enough and time” (l. 1). The image of
“world enough” (l. 1) is shown by the “Indian Ganges” (l. 5), an exotic country which is far
away from the “Humber” (l. 7) in England .


Love in 'To His Coy Mistress'
University of Freiburg  (Englisches Seminar)
Einführung in das Studium der englischen und amerikanischen Literatur
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
380 KB
Love, Mistress, Einführung, Studium, Literatur
Quote paper
Andreas Keilbach (Author), 2003, Love in 'To His Coy Mistress', Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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