Marvell wrote in the style of metaphysical poets and his verses are often witty and rich in descriptions and metaphors. His style is elaborate and elegant and some of his poems like ‘The Garden’ are written in a pastoral style.
This paper attempts to study the treatment of women in two of Marvell’s poems ‘To His Coy Mistress’ and ‘The Garden’. A lot of Restoration and earlier Renaissance love poetry reveals a strand of misogynist thought, on closer readings. In Michael Drayton’s ‘How Many Paltry Foolish Painted Things’ for instance, all of womankind is addressed in the insulting title and even the object of the poet’s affection, the mistress, is only to be considered superior because of the poet’s ‘superfluous praise.’ There is nothing inherently of worth in the lady. she is immortalized by virtue of the poet’s song alone.
A similar strain of misogynist belief can be noted in Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’ which uses the vocabulary and style of the Petrarchan sonnet that was popular among Renaissance poets like Thomas Wyatt, Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser (Wald 2). The poet begins with hyperbolic descriptions of the length of time he would be willing to wait to love and possess her. But this lofty speech is undone in the second stanza, when the poet claims to feel the imminent end of available time and urges her to shed her ‘coyness’. Far from the chivalric, excessively polite address that the vocabulary of the lines suggests, there is actually an almost leering, threatening quality in them. The poet uses horrible imagery – ‘then worms shall try\ That long preserved virginity’ – to coax the mistress into submitting to him.
Not only does the blazon serve to objectify the woman, Marvell uses it in this poem without even the pretext of the ‘romantic sincerity’ of the Petrarchan tradition (Wald 3). Marvell declares in this poem that he would have loved her at this ‘rate’ had