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A Dialogue between the Soul and the Body

A Dialogue between the Soul and the Body

by Andrew Marvell

A Dialogue between the Soul and the Body Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

If you've read much classic poetry at all, then you should know the drill. If a line sounds like "daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM… whenWill itStop," it's made up of iambs. These guys are sets of two syll...

Speaker

"A soul hung up, as 'twere, in chains" (7)? Talk about a desperate housewife. This soul is hysterical over its confinement in the body. It's not just the creepy furniture—ropes of veins and arter...

Setting

If it's helpful to think of this poem as the "Magic School Bus: Journey to the Soul," go right ahead and set this baby inside some standard-issue human body with the soul dishing up its insights fr...

Sound Check

Rhyming couplets give the stanzas of this dialogue a neat, tied-together sound, emphasizing the logical structure of the arguments. Things sound more convincing (and definitely more memorable) when...

What's Up With the Title?

Marvell calls it a dialogue, but is it? In the genre sense, yes, because the poem involves two characters who are chewing the fat about some philosophical issues.But if you read closely, you'll see...

Calling Card

Although it doesn't appear in every poem, the density of political imagery in this dialogue offers a pretty good clue that we're reading something Marvell-ous. Scholars debate long and hard about h...

Tough-o-Meter

Although the language and imagery are straightforward, the sprinkling of paradox and Marvell's full-on embrace of seventeenth-century body-and-soul philosophy can make the concepts a chilly climb f...

Trivia

Our man Andy wasn't the only guy writing conversation between souls and bodies. James Howell (1594-1666) came up with this humdinger in 1651: "The vision or a dialog between the soul and the bodie,...

Steaminess Rating

There's a lot of body-talk in this dialogue, but this isn't eighth-grade health class. Marvell keeps it clean and philosophical instead of dirty and physical.

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