Study Guide

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" takes place where the grass is always green, nothing ever dies, and nature is in complete harmony with all of man's whims, needs, and desires. So it's no wonder that the speaker uses nature and all its awesomeness as a convenient way to woo his lady love. Is there anything sexier than… sheep? Okay, so there are plenty of things sexier than sheep, but for our speaker, the pastoral world might as well be the most romantic restaurant in town.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Where does Marlowe shift from describing nature authentically to describing its idealized form? Is this change significant? If so, why? If not, why not?
  2. What specific details and images indicate that this is a pastoral poem?
  3. What role does the speaker's portrayal of nature play in supporting his argument? Does it make his argument more or less convincing to you?

Chew on This

Marlowe presents an idealized picture of nature in an attempt to satirize the unrealistic visions of the countryside held by city-dwellers. Basically, he's making fun of the folks who think the key to happiness lies in roughing it.

Marlowe's choice to portray a pastoral world signifies his dissatisfaction with modern society and urbanization. It is a veiled longing for a return to simpler times.

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