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Contrasting Love in To His Coy Mistress and Elegy for Jane

Contrasting Love in To His Coy Mistress and Elegy for Jane

If one is interested enough to look, one can find twenty-eight definitions for the word “love” in the dictionary. Such a broadly-defined word has no doubt contributed to the diverse array of poems which all claim (legitimately) to be about “love”. Two such poems are “To His Coy Mistress”, by Andrew Marvell, and “Elegy for Jane”, by Theodore Roethke. Both poems are clearly love poems; however, the types of love that each one represents are quite different. “To His Coy Mistress” is written in a very amorous tone, while “Elegy for Jane” is written with a tone of deep, personal affection and loss.

Dictionary definition number three for love is “sexual passion or desire”. This is the stance from which “To His Coy Mistress” is written. Marvell spends the first twenty lines of the poem lauding such female attributes as coyness and virginity (lines 2 and 6). The first twenty lines of the poem are Marvell’s attempt to gain the trust of the object of the poem (for it is clearly written for a young lady). He assures her that if he had the time, he would love her as she deserves to be loved (line 19). He assures her that he could spend over thirty-thousand years praising the parts of her body. He would also wait a time of biblical magnitude (lines 8-10) for the young lady to bestow her sexual favors upon him, if he had the time to wait. However, even in this sort of “you can trust me because I love you and fully appreciate you for who you are” set-up to gain the confidence of the girl, it is clear that his intentions are amorous: the fact that he would spend a mere hundred years praising her eyes, yet spend a collective four hundred years on her breasts (lines 13-15) is…

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…ither father nor lover”). Their bond, ostensibly teacher/student, grew into a friendship far stronger than an academic one. The tone is nostalgic, yet mournful the loss of one for whom the speaker had a deep affection.

Love comes in many forms, and poets have likely described them all at one point or another. With so many different types of love, it is quite possible for two “love poems” to be written in completely different tones. Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” is a very amorous poem, spoken by a fiery young man, while Roethke’s “Elegy for Jane” is a mournful look back at a life lost too soon, spoken by a deeply affected friend. Both poems are as poignant as they are distinct from one another, and they serve as an interesting lesson in love.

Works Cited:

Marvell, Andrew. “To His Coy Mistress” and Other Poems. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1997.

A Comparison of Amy of Beloved and RP of Cuckoo’s Nest

Comparing Amy of Beloved and RP of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The gentlemen in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” were in search of mental freedom. Fear kept them prisoners of their own minds. Perhaps the main focus of the film was to illustrate the point that we are master’s of own freedom. However, it is difficult to change our pattern of thinking. Sometimes, in fact, we need someone to show us just how it is done. Ken Kesey’s character Randall P. McMurphy was always accustomed to being a wild and free spirit. His attitude was completely contagious. Often, when you experience someone with that amount of self, you begin to think that you too can do anything. RP healed more of the men in the ward than any medicine or doctor could have dreamed. Specifically, he healed Billy, gave Cheswick some much-needed self-confidence, and set Chief completely free. Furthermore, he had the rest of the ward convinced they were “no more insane then the average guy walking around the streets!” Nurse Ratched, on the other hand, had a complete opposite effect. Her methods of therapy were cornered on guilt, repression and inflexible rules. She killed Billy. In short, she caused the patients to remain in chains.

In the novel “Beloved” by Toni Morrison the character Amy shares some of the same liberating characteristics as RP McMurphy. Both use their confidence to enable individuals to reach their full potential. Without Amy’s deliberate, confident guidance, Sethe may have never reached Sweet Home. Before she did that, however, Sethe had to conquer her past, which included schoolteacher. Somewhat similar to Ratched, schoolteach…

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…shocked the first time he jokingly fools the whole ward with the humorous side of his personality. The two were extremely magnetic people.

For every nurse Ratched there will always be someone like RP who bends her granite rules and “for every schoolteacher there would be an Amy.” (188) These characters seemed to balance each other well in their roles. Violent individuals like schoolteacher will always represent evil in this world. Manipulative, control centered people like Ratched will also prove to be obstacles. Still, McMurphy eased the tension that Ratched inflicted upon the ward. Moreover, Amy made Sethe forget about schoolteacher’s “lessons” and started her on her way to freedom. Both RP and Amy were gifted liberators who could make someone believe in him or herself before they even knew what hit them.

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