"The Beggar Woman" by William King, and "To his Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvel

‘The Beggar Woman’ by William King is about a gentleman hunter, who is trying to convince a prostitute to have sex with him in the woods. The hunter is using a lot of excuses to get the woman to have sex with him, including saying that he is good at it and that she will like it. But, the woman does not really want to, and she too uses excuses. Excuses like having a child with her, and because of this she cannot go off with him.

‘To his Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvel has a similar plot to the other poem, in that it too is based on the theme of sex. In this poem, the male is again trying to get the female to have sex. He is trying a lot of tricks and excuses to get her to agree

. The poem is set out in a way that we get a sense of the man talking to his partner and trying to convince her.

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He tries to flatter her and make it seem as though he is deeply in love with her and that it is the right thing for them to do, and they do not do it any time soon, then she may miss her chance. There are many more similarities that these two poems hold between each other, and I will try to explain as many of these as possible and how men will try anything and do anything, just so that they can have sex.

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In the first section of ‘To his Coy Mistress’ the speaker tells his mistress (a woman with power over the man) what they could achieve in their relationship if they had sufficient time. We have all heard the expression, ‘all the time in the world’. But, you may have also heard someone say, ‘Hurry up! You’re acting as if you had all the time in the world’. That’s what the male is referring to in the first line of the poem. He says, “Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime.” This basically translates to if they had all the time in the world, then her shyness would not matter to them. He then says that they could, he would all the time he had doing other stuff with her. “To walk, and pass our long love’s day; Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide Of Humber would complain.” Then the male talks about “the conversion of the Jews”, which is meant to represent the end of world. Marvell than implies that the mistress that she could refuse him for all of time for sex, and that he still wouldn’t ever lose his love for her because she is what is most important to him. He then talk about his love being like a vegetable and that it would grow “vaster than empires, and more slow.”

This implies that his love would become so great, and would also last for so long that it is like a Roman empire almost. In line 13, the speaker gives ‘flattering’ details of his partner. “One hundred years would go on praising her eyes and forehead”. Then the speaker would “adore each breast for two hundred years”. It was common in poetry of this time to praise the eyes, forehead and breasts, so Marvell does this. However, in line 16, he refers politely to the parts of her body he is more interested in without mentioning them directly: “But thirty thousand to the rest; Am age at least to every part.” A the end of this section, Andrew Marvell starts to prepare what is going to be said in the next section of the poem from what the male is saying; “For, lady, you deserve this state, Nor would I love at lower rate.” He is saying that she deserves all the treatment that he can give her, and that his desires to have some practical action in their relationship are very strong. But, he mentions the word “would”, so this expresses that he wants to love her, although there are some apparent obstacles in the way for him to do this.

In the second section of ‘To his Coy Mistress’, the argument is based on that fact that there isn’t as much of the time that the speaker said that there was in the first section. Instead of having all those centuries of years that he promised his lady, he now tells her that he can hear “Time’s winged chariot” coming near to them both. The speaker says that there isn’t a lot of time left and that they ought to hurry up the process of the relationship. The truth of what he is speaking comes from lines 23-24, from “yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity.” The deserts of vast eternity are the endless times that exist beyond death. That is rather depressing thing to say to his partner, but he is using this to support his argument that life and youth should not be wasted. The speaker emphasizes that in death, there is nothing left to value anymore. “Thy beauty shall no more be found” talks about the value of her looks going away, and not to be appreciated anymore. Then the male really brings a horrible image into the females voice when he says, “worms shall try That long-preserved virginity.”

The implied comparison is used of the worm and the mans penis. Andrew Marvel is trying to make the female think about the fact that her fears will happen anyway, but instead of in a nicer way, they are implied in a horrible way like death. This is the speakers attempt at persuasion through trying to make her fearful. Andrew Marvel finishes off the second section with the lines “The grave’s a fine and private place. But none, I think do there embrace.” Again, he starts to anticipate what is going to be said in the next section of ‘To his Coy Mistress’ with the use of the word “embrace”, but he also shows a certain degree of humour within the irony by pointing out the idea that the grave is a good place for a sexual liaison, but unfortunately the ability and desire for this has disappeared.

Having stated in the first section that he would wait patiently for the lady to ‘yield’ to him if they had all the time in the world, and having countered that in the second section with the male saying that time flies, and with it dies all the sexual desires and beauty. He then proposes the solution in the next section. From “youthful hue Sits on skin like morning dew” in lines 33-34, the male is suggesting that she should make the use of the beauty, which is soft like dew, whilst she still has it. The speaker then comes up with a proposition in lines 37-40, with; “Now let us sport us while we may: And now, like amorous birds of prey, Rather at once out time devour Than languish in his slow-chapped power.” He uses the term “sport” as an energetic activity instead of the sex being defined as a game, as that is the way that this term was used in the 17th century. Marvell does not suggest the sex to be greatly fun, but uses the two characters as an image of birds of prey. This suggests their actions will be violent and highly energetic during their lovemaking. Later he speaks of the need to “tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life:” This impression is that life and time are against pleasure and that the two partners should work together to try and defeat these negative forces occurring.

The time is like a jail guard who tries to keep them tied up. But if possible, the lovers could “roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball” they can escape this prison life. If you define ‘strength’ as a sexual action, and ‘sweetness’ as their desire of love, you can understand what the male is saying better. The argument concludes in lines 45-46 with the lovers’ command of time if they were to ‘seize the day’. “Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run.” In line 45, he can acknowledge that they cannot make time stand still. So in conclusion to this section, the speaker knows that they cannot make the time stand still, but if they can work together they could make use out of their time and energy. The speaker is saying that they do not have to let time defeat them, and it can’t if they just let into their desires.

Overall, we have seen the speaker use many different tactics and ways that he can get his partner to have sex with him. In the first section he uses flattery and gets her to feel good about herself. In the next section he then tries to scare her about time soon vanishing and them having not used the most out of their beauty, and in the final section the speaker uses passion to talk about their wants to use the time they have to fulfill their desired needs. There have been many ways that the male has tries to get his mistress to join with him, and the way that is has been told is not accepted as a great thing to do, although it can be said that his methods used are clever and persuasive.

Throughout most of history, women have been lead by men. This poem deals with man and their sexual freedoms, with leaving lower class women to carry the consequences of what is going on. Lower class women were thought of to be more vulnerable than the upper class females. The person’s class makes the difference between a worse off girl (lower class) and a social disaster (upper class). If an upper class person was to lose his/her reputation, it would become very hard for that person to gain it again in the 17th century. This poem is all about a man who has been tricked by a beggar woman and leaves him with the consequences of his own sexual acts.

In the first line, we can see make out that the poem has started out with an upper class man has got lost during hunting. We take it that he has got lost from the writer’s use of “rode astray”, but from the next line we now make out that this has been intentional by the man and that it was “more out of choice, than that he lost his way”. The male has left his hunting party to chase a hare, whilst he goes off with an “other game in view”. We can see that the man has intentionally gone off to look for something particular. We know that he is looking for the women, but by his use of the word “game” I feel that he thinks of the women as more of a creature or an animal like the hare, rather than the women that she actually is. When the man comes across them women we make out that she seems willing with the hunter, and that she is going to co-operate with him. The man refers to the female as a mistress, and as we recalled from the first poem, he makes her out to be in control of him. Although from lines 7-8 he makes the request; “what is we two should Retire a little way into the wood?”

In line 5 the woman is called a “beggar” and that it would not be in her interest to turn him away and offend him, as he is so rich and powerful. But we can see this is not the case from line 9; “She needed not much courtship to be kind.” We can try to make out whether her actions were out of choice or because she already had a plan in mind. The man’s thoughts and superior position are further more emphasized in the next line from “He ambles on before, she trots behind.” William King has again referred to the female as an animal, in this case a horse, when her movement is looked at as a “trot”. His control over her is shown with him leading her into the woods. This description is amusing and King is trying to make us reduce the women’s dignity, and this is especially the case when he mentions the baby that she has strapped to her back. This is from lines 11-12; “little Bobby, to her shoulders bound, Hinders the gentle dame from ridding ground”

At this stage of the poem, we have the impression that the girl is more than willing to do what the gentleman asks her to do. As she runs after the man, she directs him to an “unfrequented spot” and even helps him to make his “horse secure”. As the gentleman and the beggar woman start to get to some action, the man suggest that he help her place the baby to the side; “we’ll lay it by”. But, the woman doesn’t seem to negotiate with him and she says “That can’t be done, for then, ’twill cry. I’d not have us, but chiefly for your sake.” She makes out that he is concerned for him and his reputation and reminds him that she recognizes his high social status. Then the male is cleverly tricked by the woman to have the child attached to him. “To come so far and disoblige you both: Were the child tied to me, d’ye think ‘twould do?” and to that the women answers with “Mighty well, sir! Oh Lord! If tied to you!”

She makes out that she is surprised by his suggestion and acts very greatful and appreciative. William King has made the upper class gentleman look ridiculous now, and has made his seem very desperate to get something from the beggar woman. Even though he is higher class, he is still very polite with her as he feels that if he isn’t then he won’t get anything. This had made the woman feel that she could use this opportunity to take advantage of him, and so starts to make excuses about having the baby on her back. With this happening, the male will do anything to get what he wants, so he offers to take the baby. His reputation is now going to start to disintegrate with the woman starting to play around with him, and the male ending up saying that he will take the baby. William King is trying to show that even the most upper class of gentleman can start to look extremely ridiculous, just so that they can end up having sex.

The poems finishes with the woman having the last words: “ere you get another, ten’t amiss To try a year or two how you’ll keep this.” The poem is light-hearted but makes some very sharp points about 17th century life. One of which, is that women of any class are used by men and left to face the consequences. But he however, William King reverses this idea and shows a case where the man has been taken advantage of and is left faced with a punishment for his desperate feelings to have sex with the beggar woman. Now, he has been left with a child on his back, and probably the case of having lost his reputation and even social standing.

These poems are similar in one particular way, and that’s the fact that the males in each of the poems when to extreme measures, just so that they could have sex with the females. In ‘To his coy Mistress’ the speaker went quite far as it was to write the poem for his partner, and that he had to say a lot of things to get her to do his favor. Starting from praising her and telling her she looks beautiful, to saying that if she does not have sex soon, then there won’t be any time for her to ever have it. Then in the second poem, ‘The Beggar Woman’, the upper class gentleman ends up walking away with the woman’s baby because he is so desperate to have intercourse in the woods. These men have gone to big measures so that they can get the pleasure from the women that they want. But, the methods and actions used by these two men were very different from each other and are not similar in any way.

Andrew Marvell in ‘To his Coy Mistress’ uses a rather subtle argument for his male role to get his partner into bed with him. If he wants the argument to be persuasive and sound more subtle then a good use of language needs to be used. For example, when Marvell goes from a tone of complaint to that of joy;

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.

We would sit down, and think which way

To walk, and pass our long love’s day.

Also, we can see the use of alliteration here with the letter ‘W’ in line 3, and again with ‘L’ in line 4. There is also the use of rhyme in these four lines, and throughout the whole of the poem Marvell uses rhyming couplets. In The Beggar Woman, King also uses a large amount of alliteration and rhyming couplets. If we look at lines 18 and 19 of ‘The Beggar Woman’, and we can see that some of the words start with the letters ‘T’ and ‘S’ to show the use of alliteration, and we can also see a use of rhyme; “Thither they come, and both the horse secure; Then thinks the squire, I have the matter sure.”

Another poetic device that both Marvell and King use, are similes. In line 35 of ‘The Beggar Woman’ we read “Upon her generous friend, and, like a cross . . .” This is King comparing the situation in hand to that of a cross. Marvell, in line 38, we see “like am’rous birds of prey”. This is where the beggar woman is referred to as a bird of prey, with the gentleman being the victim.

Cite this page

"The Beggar Woman" by William King, and "To his Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvel. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/beggar-woman-william-king-coy-mistress-andrew-marvel-new-essay

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