Describe some of the key elements from “Venus and Adonis” which deal with a dialogue between contending ideas.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The key ideas that are discussed in this poem are about love and its nature. In many ways, this poem is similar to the carpe diem school of poems, which normally feature a man trying to convince a woman to let him love her. However, in this poem the roles are reversed, and it is Venus who tries to persuade Adonis to let them become lovers, with many different kinds of flattering arguments, and it is Adonis who resolutely argues against her. What is interesting, though, is the way that Adonis bases his argument around the difference between true love and the lust that Venus displays. As Adonis clearly states, "I hate not love, but your device in love...":

Call it not love, for love to heaven is fled

Since sweating lust on earth usurped his name,

Under whose simple semblance he hath fed

Upon fresh beauty, blotting it with blame...

The contending ideas therefore relate to questions concerning the nature of love and how love can be separated from lust. Adonis clearly feels that what Venus is expressing towards him cannot be called love, but is only lust, a much baser and impurer emotion that is not true love at all. Venus, throughout the poem, allows her feelings, words and actions to be dictated to by her passion, whereas Adonis is able to allow reason to dominate, in spite of the way he is literally manhandled by Venus at various points in the proceedings. Yet through the entire poem, the two contending ideas are expressed in the two opposing perspectives of Venus and Adonis concerning love.

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