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To His Coy Mistress

To His Coy Mistress

by Andrew Marvell

To His Coy Mistress Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Many critics think that no woman could possibly be charmed by the speaker. Why? Can you think of any scenarios where a woman might be charmed? If not, why?
  2. Do you like the speaker? Why, or why not? Do you think he’s a "nice guy?" If so, what makes you think that he’s nice? If not, what makes you think so?
  3. Who is "in charge" in the poem, the speaker or the mistress? You can imagine scenarios for both sides of the argument.
  4. We suggest that Marvell left his characters anonymous to make them timeless, to allow us to fill them in however we choose. Can you think of any other reasons Marvell might have left out the names and personal details?
  5. What’s your favorite stanza of the poem? Why do you like it best? Do you identify with the speaker in some way in that stanza? Does he remind you of someone you know? Or, does he seem incredibly new and refreshing? Does your preference have to do not so much with the speaker, but rather with the language in the stanza? Or, with the images, or with the mood?
  6. In Marvell’s time there is no Internet, no phone, no TV, no airplanes, and not even radio. If these technologies were available to Marvell, how might the first stanza of the poem be different? Considering the huge technology gap between ourselves and Marvell, does the first stanza (which deals with, among other things, long-distance communication) still speak to us meaningfully? Why, or why not? (It’s OK to say "both," as long as you explain why you feel that way.)

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