To His Coy Mistress Questions and Answers
by Andrew Marvell

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How does Andrew Marvell's poem "To his Coy Mistress" employ both hyperbole and understatement and what are their effects on the reader?

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In the first two lines, we find the poem's first example of hyperbole, or overstatement. The speaker says,

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.

The speaker implies that the lady to whom he speaks is committing a crime by being coy with him. In other words, she is being playfully flirtatious but, ultimately, refuses to sleep with him. By implying that her behavior is criminal, the speaker is setting a rather playful, even humorous mood. Obviously coyness isn't illegal, and so this is a clear example of hyperbole to suggest that it is. We might also chuckle at the speaker's clear sexual frustration.

Further, the speaker says that, if they had all the time in the world, then

[His] vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.

These lines present...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 632 words.)

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