The Symbolism In “To His Coy Mistress“
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The Symbolism in “To His Coy Mistress”
We all have the choice either to take advantage of time or allow time to take advantage of us. This choice has been a struggle for everyone in some point in their lifetime. It has also been a topic in many literary pieces, for example this idea is presented in “To His Coy Mistress”, a poem by Andrew Marvell.
In this poem, the opportunity of living life to the fullest or choosing to waste your time is supplied through symbolism. According to Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus symbolism is, “conveying impressions by suggestion rather than by direct statements”(“symbolism”). Using symbolism to express ideas makes it possible to visualize things that are not usually perceived, and in this case it makes time seem almost visible.
Time is symbolized through a lover attempting to seduce a mistress, “a lady to whom courtesy and courtly convention and erotic longing attribute a superordinate status, a power to command”(Atlantic), into having a sexual relationship with him. The idea that time is running out is expressed throughout the poem, as the lover uses this excuse for wanting that sort of relationship so urgently. The very first line, “Had we but world enough, and time”(1) brings out the focus of time directly. It is then reinforced through hyperbole in the following phrases such as “A hundred years should go to praise / Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; / Two hundred to adore each breast, / But thirty thousand to the rest; / An age at least to every part”(13-17). These lines symbolize the lack of time the lover has to show his mistress the love she is worthy of, “For, Lady, you deserve this state”(19). He tries to make her feel exceptional, so that he can seduce her into making love with him.
Marvell then continues on to symbolize the lack of time using other literary devices. Running out of time is shown in several descriptive ways. For example, the pe...
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