How do I write a compare/contrast essay on "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and "The Nymphs' Reply to the Shepherd"?

Expert Answers
Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hi again!  The imagery in the poem follows the same pattern as I outlined above.  The nymph echoes the shepherd, but twists the images to fit her purposes, to demonstrate the realistic side of the idealistic images created by the shepherd.

Look at a few of them:

  • singing nightingales become "dumb," they can't sing anymore
  • the "fragrant posies" don't last, they "fade"
  • the shepherd uses many images describing nature in the spring (I'll let you decide which those are), but according to the nymph, spring is "a honey's tongue, a heart of gall,/Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall."
  • the nymph lists his images for you in lines 13-16, then turns them to her point of view:  "Thy gowns, thy shoes,.../Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten./In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

I think that should give you the evidence you need.  Good luck.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Concerning a comparison/contrast essay, you're in luck.  These two works are naturals for that kind of essay. 

Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is pastoral and idealistic.  The work idealizes and romanticizes nature, shepherds, and country life.  "Pleasures" abound in "...valleys, groves, hills, and fields,/Woods, or steepy mountain...."  And "...Melodious birds sing madrigals."   The posies are "fragrant," the wool the "finest," and the lambs "pretty."  You get the idea.

In contrast, Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" is cynical and realistic.  The world is not young and fresh and every shepherd does not speak the truth.  Rivers "...rage and rocks grow cold,..."  Flowers "fade" and fields "yield" to winter.  Spring is a "honey tongue," but a "heart of gall [poison]."  Again, you get the picture. 

That should get you started.    

kileyrosee | Student

almost done! just need to compare/contrast imagery in these poems. a little help?

Read the study guide:
The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

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