To His Coy Mistress


You are to submit a four page essay on Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.”  That is 1200 words.

One tact to take in approaching this first paper is to adopt one of the critical approaches from HCAL and make it your own.  Show what you have learned by using the principles and techniques of one of those approaches to bring understanding of the possible significance of the text. Try to avoid a patchwork of incoherent perspectives that don’t really work together.

Another tact is just to approach the text to discover its significance from your own perspective, but whatever approach you take, it is vital to quote the poem and use it to support your point of view.  I know you’ve seen a lot of perspectives on the poem, but certain issues or themes may have really struck you as important or revealing.  Be sure to quote the words from the Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature (HCAL) also to support your insights and conclusions. Remember quoting from the handbook and quoting from the poem require special consideration. If I quote from HCAL, for example that the setting of the story may be “a formal garden? the spacious grounds of a nobleman’s estate” (Guerin et al. 7), then the citation will look like the parentheses to the left, but if I quote from the poem, pointing out that “…yonder all before us lie/Deserts of vast eternity” (Marvell 23-24), then I use the line numbers I am quoting and not the page numbers of the book.

You have been given the keys to the kingdom, and now you can see the whole elephant (meaning the many views on the poem in this case).  Look at the poem with your new eyes and tell me what you see; what does each word, each line, each stanza, and this poem, say to you now?

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