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Figurative Language in to His Coy Mistress

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Every poem has its own way to interpret the message that the author is trying to convey. This happens through the usage of figurative language. The poems “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare and “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell have their own interpretations of a mistress through a variety of elements, but both are very different. The difference between “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare and “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell are the figurative language which includes similes, hyperboles, and the overall message.

When it comes to the author from each poem, they are two different individuals with different writing styles. William Shakespeare, who is a poet, actor, and playwright, was born in 1564. His works consist of plays, poems, and sonnets, which are known to capture emotions from others with his innovative and traditional styles. One common poetry element Shakespeare used for his plays were blank verse. Some of his well-known plays include Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. Throughout his lines of work, Shakespeare was able to create unique pieces that talked about life, love, and many more. With all his hard work, Shakespeare became a well-known poet. On the other hand, Andrew Marvell, who was born in 1621, got his political reputation overshadowing his lines of work in poetry. Marvell is well-known as a satirist and Metaphysical poet, which means his works consist of intellectualized and strange content. He expresses his thoughts about different topics uniquely and differently compared to other poets. Marvell spent most of his time in Parliament, so his works were not published until he died. One of his classic metaphysical poems is called “To His Coy Mistress”, which is used in the English literature today. Today, this poem is used commonly to convey the usage of hyperbole and other figurative languages. Both Shakespeare and Marvell are romantic poets; however, Marvell tends to change his perspective about love. Therefore, his change in personality can be seen in his poem “To His Coy Mistress” through the usage of hyperbole.

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Hyperbole is a figurative language used to exaggerate a certain topic or situation. This can be well expressed in the poem “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell. The speaker, in this poem, expresses his love for his mistress and slowly becomes more demanding when he couldn’t get what he wanted. For example, when the speaker said, “I would love you ten years before the flood”, he exaggerates how much he would love her, but in the end, all he wanted was to use the mistress for his sexual desire (Marvell, 7-8). Although the speaker spoke positively towards the mistress, his selfishness overpowered and lead the poem from being romantic to unpleasant. The speaker’s attitude changed drastically throughout the poem. On the contrary, the poem, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare, was also talking about a mistress, but instead of complimenting her, the speaker compared her to the opposite of beauty. He expresses exaggeration through the comparisons that were made, making the mistress seem very unattractive. Consequently, the author used similes to describe those comparisons.

A simile is a figure of speech used to make a comparison between two different things that have similar qualities. Similes use the words “like” or “as” to show what is being compared. However, in the poem, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare, the speaker compares his mistress to the opposite of someone who is beautiful. In other words, he was insulting her through false comparisons and does not use “like” or “as”. For example, when the speaker says, “If hair be wires, black wires grow on her head”, which means he is comparing her hair to wires and usually wires are lifeless and dull (Shakespeare, 4). The speaker continues to compare his mistress to things that were supposed to be beautiful, but in his mind, his mistress was not beautiful. From her lips not being red to her breath being smelly. This poem was filled with insults and some of them were exaggerated. Usually, a mistress has something that attractive, but in this poem, it is the opposite. Nonetheless, she is still the speaker’s mistress and he still cares about her.

To conclude, the poems “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare and “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell had more differences when it came to the overall message and the usage of figurative language. The message from both poems shows how different the speaker treats their mistress. With the help of figurative language, the meaning can be expressed clearly. One poem had more hyperboles and the other had more similes. When poems use a variety of figurative language, it helps express a deeper meaning of the message that the author is trying to convey.

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Figurative Language in to His Coy Mistress. (2021, September 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“Figurative Language in to His Coy Mistress.” Edubirdie, 21 Sept. 2021,
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Figurative Language in to His Coy Mistress [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 21 [cited 2023 Dec 3]. Available from:
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