I have recently studied two poems that both relate to the theme of seduction but are written in two entirely different periods, “To His Coy Mistress” and “The Seduction”. I will be exploring and contrasting the different methods of seduction in each poem.
Andrew Marvell wrote during period of when to lose your virginity before marriage was not looked upon lightly. His methods lead to a strong persuasive argument to convince her to sleep with him. “To His Coy Mistress” is written into sections that constantly builds up unusual imagery that he uses to express his supposed vast love for her.
The first section is very moving as he uses water imagery to prove the dullness of life without the company of his mistress, “I by the tide of the Humber would complain” is compared to the exoticness of the Ganges “Thou by the Indian Ganges side”. However, as he fails to seduce the girl by romantic rhymes and flattery, such as, the eternity of their love will last, “till the conversion of the Jews”. The narrator shows impatience and frustration as the poem turns from having all the time in the world to plan their love and letting it grow as slow as a vegetable to, “time’s winged chariot hurry near”. This personification proves that time is still moving and is shown to be chasing behind them. Andrew Marvell realises time as an objective to overcome before it take away her rare beauty, he must battle against it before it steals the object of his lust, “Thou beauty shall no longer be found”. Towards the next section he mentions lust but hides this by using plenty of flattery telling his lady that she looks so young and beautiful, “While the youthful hew sits on thy skin like morning dew”. Andrew Marvell says “now let us sport us while we may but as it seems Marvell is helping her overcome her fear of loosing her virginity before marriage.
Near the last section he goes for the kill trying his hardest to persuade her once again by using time as his reason. Still he expresses he cannot control time and soon it will be too late “Thus, Through, we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run” for him to achieve his desires while her looks are still appreciated.
Eileen McAuley wrote during the period when loosing your virginity before marriage wasn’t said to be a crime or even disrespectful, Which the methods of seduction are achieved through alcohol and actions. “The Seduction” is split into 16 verses where as they are split into two different sections.
The first section is about how the girl was seduced, Second is the consequences three months after and the affects it has on her life. Both sections join to form a story setting. As the time is shown “early Sunday morning”, She’s leaving the party where as she is led away from the crowd. “Far past the silver stream of traffic through the city”, Away from the public eye as his chances to seduce the girl are much easier. “Far from the blind windows of the towers”, Windows are shows to be “blind”, An example of a metaphor is shows here as the windows eyes are covered from what is about to happen.
From the first verse no signs of romanticism is shown that’s backed up by the setting of the “Birkenhead Docks”. She sees everything from different perspectives instantly and settles close to the boy immediately so close she can hear his “leather jacket creaking madly”. The fact that the boy spits into the river afterward it creates a disgusting atmosphere that surrounds them. The boy shows no respect for the girl, or any concern in might what happen considering he mutters “little slag”.
From this the third verse steps back into time to the party where they first met, He talks all night while she, “nodded, quite enchanted”. Proves she’s already drunk as her “eyes were wide and bright” not caring all he talks about is Ian Rush and the next McGuigan fight. The boy leads to his wicked plans to seduce the girl by encouraging her to drink as he brings more, she doesn’t refuse “so she fell in love”. Her views change and the boy becomes more and more perfect to her. When she sees his eyes to be as bluse as iodine which is shown to be metaphor. He then reaches the point when its time to leave the party “ill take you to the river where I spend my afternoons”, “so she followed” innocent. Without a clue what his intentions are “all high white shoes”. The atmosphere is built with the help of water imagery and achieved by the unpleasant feeling of the “frightening scum on the water”. Also followed by the statement “The Mersey, green as a septic wound” which is the main theme of where he seduces the girl. As he manages to achieve his desire, the girl is reminded by the stories about the corruption of other girl’s lives from teenage magazines.
Three months gone, She’s in “locked darkness of her room”, “ripping up all her My Guy and her Jackie photo comics” regretting every moment of what happened. As the heels was what she worn on the night, she destroys those memories, as she flung them at the wall”. She was vulnerable at the time expecting his promises to be kept if anything went wrong but she was “cheated by the promise of it all”. Now she’s stuck home missing the summer and her chances “where strangers could lead you to the bright new worlds” Now she’ll never know?
Now she’s home disgusted “with a soft rounded belly” is proving the consequence that she’s pregnant. Now she misses all the innocence around her that was spoilt. She doesn’t like to look back on what has happened but the fun wonderland that has been taken from her is all she dreams of. She knows its too late, her life has slipped from her, she might as well “turn away, move away, fadeaway”. Now the neighbours can say, “you always looked the type”.
From studying both of the poems its not surprising that they contrast in many ways and have major similarities, even though they were written in two entirely different periods. The two poems are written from different perspectives and have their own styles. A female narrator writes “The Seduction” from an outside view on the boy’s methods of seduction. “To His Coy Mistress” uses a strong persuasive and passionate argument to express his vast love to convince her to have sex with him. Where as “The Seduction” methods of seduction is mainly alcohol that relaxes tension and makes it easier for the boy to seduce the girl. The major clash between the poems is the unusual water imagery that plays a huge part in both poems. Its used to build an infected atmosphere for “The Seduction”, but to describe how special this girl is too him in “To His Coy Mistress”.
I feel that “To His Coy Mistress” is the most effective and enjoyable poem. At First it’s hard to understand due to the Standard English which was used from the time. But it still captures my intention with the constant build up of tension, did he achieve what he wanted through his passionate and persuasive argument? . We won’t know? . His ideas and points mean something and are being directed straight to the girl, this is why it’s interesting to read to try and understand what he’s trying to say. Also to decide whether he really loved her or was she just an object of lust to him?