Color the World with Love in Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress and Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Love. The feeling that you have right when you read that one word; it’s bliss, warmth, and happiness that flows down your spine and to your toes. This one word has so much meaning and is such an insubstantial feeling that can cause you to be exposed and defenseless. However, it’s the foundation to most relationships. The bigger question that I want to introduce is whether or not there is a correlation between the strength of love and time? Through my research, I found that love can be measured subjectively based on one’s personal feelings and or experiences. I will illustrate this by reflecting on societies’ view and the three poems that we discussed in class: William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, and Robert Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover. These three poems all had different views, but they were all similar to the topics of love and its connection to time. In addition, I will draw upon my parent’s strong relationship which is based on love that has been cultivated for over 31 years.

Each and every one of us has experienced some type of love throughout our lifetime. As we grow up, most parents instill some factor of love within us that helps us express it in our own way whether it be in words, feelings, or actions. Love is glimpsed in numerous phases of our lives; we see it in music, motion pictures, literature, religion, and even in the most strenuous events. In order to comprehend it’s measurement, you need to know each version of love that can be communicated. John Alan Lee expressed in The Psychology of Love, “With only one word to use, we tend to think there is only one thing corresponding to the word – one kind of relationship that is truly love” (Sternberg & Barnes 39). This is an interesting perspective expressed by Mr. Lee. I feel there is some truth to his statement because we all have things that we experience which bring forth a subdivision or feeling of love. For example, I get an overwhelming pleasant sensation when I see my dog, Maximilian. These feelings I experience would suggest I have a love relationship with him that can have different levels on any given day. Furthermore, Lee psychoanalyzed that there are six broad styles of love; he categorizes them into his theory of the “colors of love” (45). There are three primary colors: eros (beauty-oriented love), ludus (playful, noncommittal love), and storge (friendship, brotherly-sisterly love), and then there’s three secondary colors: mania (intense, obsessive love), pragma (pragmatic love), and lastly agape (saintly, altruistic love) (45). Throughout my paper I want to look more in depth on eros, ludus, and mania love because they tie the most into our three poems.

When you consider the colors of love outlined by Mr. Lee, Eros is one of the main versions of love that we as society express – it is the intimate and romantic, almost fairytale, love that is conveyed between you and a partner. Sure, enough this type of love is seen as the color red. Eros is most commonly portrayed within romance movies and novels as “love at first sight” because it has a deeper meaning towards physical beauty. These types of lovers have a voluptuary desire or a passionate drive to intensify their relationship in an emotional and physical matter because they immediately feel that lust attraction for each other. Shakespeare articulates within Sonnet 116, “Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, / But bears it out even to the edge of doom” (11-12). Being in love is something so perfect and imperfect at the same time. We face obstacles in life that try so desperately to take the significance of love away from us, but Shakespeare strives to guide us in a way to believe that this can never be done. Once these individuals are in these eros relationships they come to adore this attachment and feeling that they’ll stay in them for as long as possible with the hope of it never being altered. Shakespeare uses his sonnet to support this certainty. “Love’s not Time’s fool” (line 9) is shown as an example. Wouldn’t we all like to sustain a relationship as expressed by Shakespeare.

As we look into the relationships within the 21st century with teenagers and young adults, we tend to classify our connections more on the line of ‘talking’. It’s this uncanny make-or-break limbo. Gabrielle Gresge collects interviews within her article 7 Millennials Try to Define What “Talking” Means in the Dating World, as she spoke to Drew H. he defined ‘talking’ as, “When you’re talking, you’re more than friends and less than a couple. You don’t want to be labeled. It could be serious; it could be just a fling” (7). Within our society and my generation, Gen Z, we use this word to conceal our true feelings because most of us are looking for a way to avoid commitment. When you compare any generation that came before us, we’re more comfortable and open to multiple relationship because we like to consider various options. We’ve seen the demand that certain relationships take and aren’t quite sure if traditional relationships are for us. Meg Murphy, a writer for Bentley University, expresses in her article NowUKnow: Why Millennials Refuse to Get Married.

Traditional marriage has been on a downward trajectory for generations, but with this group it appears to be in free fall. According to a report released last month by the Pew Research Center, 25 percent of millennials are likely to never be married. (bentley.edu 4) Within the millennial generation, born between 1977 and 1995, it’s been shown that they aren’t rejecting marriage their just not in a rush to get hitched so soon. As every generation has before, Gen Z will likely follow in the footsteps of millennials when it comes to their view on relationships, but also bring their own flare to it. Mr. Lee interpreted this type of relationship as ludus within his colors of love. If there would have to be a color to represent this version of love it would be blue. Individuals that are comfortable in ludic manner often ponder love as a game; usually a multiplayer game. They go from person to person, often juggling multiple relationships instead of committing to one partner. When they begin to witness a stronger relationship than usual, they normally become emotionally distant. Rachel Grieve validates Mr. Lee’s affirmation in her article There Are Six Styles of Love. Which One Best Describes You? “Because ludic individuals are more focused on the short term, they tend to place greater importance on the physical characteristics of their mate than do the other love styles” (theconversation.com 11).

The premise that ludic individuals place more importance on physical characteristics is supported by the different dating technologies that exists which are used by the Gen Z and Millennial generations. Don’t get me wrong Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, and even Coffee Meets Bagel all make it very advantageous to meet new people, but they all controversially diminish our chances of finding a deep and meaningful relationship. These technologies operate by giving their users multiple profiles to shift through; if you like what you see then you swipe right over the image, if you don’t then you swipe left and move on to the next profile. In February of 2019, single Lara Parker branched out of her element and decided to experiment on 6 different dating site profiles to determine if she could’ve been lucky enough to find a potential soulmate. After her experience Lara proclaimed, “The app itself is mostly fine, easy to use, easy to understand. But it just…isn’t fun. It’s really hard to make a connection with someone based on a few pictures and sentences” (buzzfeed.com). Although it’s not their intention, dating technologies have their way of comparing your appearance to others and restricting yourself to 150 characters to explain who you are as a person and why you would make the perfect soulmate. Personally, I don’t believe dating technologies benefit our society. They cause everyone to hide behind a digital screen and create this perfect person, instead of naturally expressing who they are face-to-face. Furthermore, To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell resembles most characteristics from ludus relationships, mainly the physical characteristic aspect. Andrew Marvell proclaims if he had all the time in the world, he would be able to admire and deflower his lady before it was too late:

Had we but world enough and time,

My 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. (1-18)

The conception of time is used as the premise of the argument in Andrew Marvell’s poem. As Marvell continues to argue his tone starts to alter, becoming even more critical and firm. All his previous affirmations soon mean nothing because, in reality, time is flying by. Shortly, her beauty will die and turn to dust, and his lust will diminish to ashes. “Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;…Thy beauty shall no more be found…My echoing song; then worms shall try/That long-preserved virginity, /And your quaint honour turn to dust,/And into ashes all my lust;” (22-30). From this stanza, I took that Marvell was trying to use a scare tactic to validate that if she doesn’t submit and open herself up to him, then once she dies worms will be the ones to take her virginity. If I was the ‘coy mistress’ and needed to respond to Andrew Marvell, I would’ve refuted his proclamation because I presume, he’s rushing their way of love. He is letting his lust take over instead of allowing her to get a point where she knows how strong of a love they have and is comfortable to open up to him without feeling pressured. On the contrary, The Resurrection Of The Body: A New Reading Of Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress may argue from this poem that behind a women’s timid exterior they think exactly like men and perceive lustful relationships to be all that they want: Beyond this, the reader that I see as implied in the language of the poem will easily infer from its particular organization, as it moves from the courtly to the worldly, from spiritual to physical, some such subsidiary statement as this: women are not what they seem, down deep they are just as libidinous as men; confront them with their desire and they will eventually admit it and live it out. (Brody 64-65)

However, the way men and women decipher their personal feelings and attraction to each other are completely different. In this day and age, women value the effort a man makes to reassure her of his commitment to each other. We don’t just think about the present. We yearn for something worth validating the future. Everyday can be used as a new stepping stone to a sturdier relationship.

In spite of the fact that sometimes love is only seen as this beautiful and appealing sensation, moreover it can be seen as an overwhelming and unmanageable experience. It has this effect of changing your whole life for the better or worse. When you invest so much time into someone, you sometimes tend to lose yourself and your identity because you’re learning to blend personalities and become one as a couple. Mr. John Alan Lee introduced a color of love that most individuals actually dismiss, mania. While eros and ludus are primary colors, when mixed together they make the secondary color violet, mania love. Mr. Lee specified this love as a mixture of all sorts.

The manic lover is obsessively preoccupied with the beloved, intensely jealous and possessive, and in need of repeated assurances of being loved. At the same time, the manic lover often holds back, fearful of loving too much before there is a guarantee of being equally loved in return. (Sternberg & Barnes 45-46) Individuals experiencing this love trait often feel like their life is a rollercoaster ride fluctuating from positive to negative thoughts instantly. Mania lovers fall in love so quickly, but it’s so much that it consumes their entire individuality. Their relationships are so frail that they tend to plummet before they ever get the chance to grow and mature. We see these individuals attain such a strong habit of clinginess and obsession that “it could set up a poisonous environment for the couple, one tinged with distrust and suspicions. Fights and arguments are bound to ensue, which does not make for a harmonious living environment, both for the partners and the people around them” (“How to Love and Be Loved”). Robert Browning created a poem, Porphyria’s Lover, that is the embodiment of a manic lover. Browning vocalizes this possessive lover so well that you can easily notice he prowls over the control of his women and eventually achieves that by murdering her. She reveals to him how much she loves him and at that moment he could tell that she glorified him. Instantly, he’s convinced that her embrace is unparalleled and wants this moment and feeling for the rest of time:

Murmuring how she loved me — she

Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavour,

To set its struggling passion free

From pride, and vainer ties dissever,

And give herself to me for ever.

Happy and proud; at last I knew

Porphyria worshipped me; surprise

That moment she was mine, mine, fair,

Perfectly pure and good:….(21-37)

To seize that moment forever this manic lover possessively takes his women’s hair and wraps it around her neck three times and murders her. He then fondles with her dead body the whole night; opening her eyes and propping her head up:

A thing to do, and all her hair

In one long yellow string I wound

Three times her little throat around,

And strangled her. No pain felt she;

I warily oped her lids: again

Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.

I propped her head up as before,

And thus we sit together now, (38-58)

Within this poem we’re given a glimpse into someone’s mind who not only seems mentally unstable, but is so deeply in love, he genuinely believes this is the best way to win her love forever. So, he captures time by killing her. If you interpreted this poem the way that I did, you will agree Robert Browning believed this type of behavior and love was valid. However, what I’ve learned and witnessed regarding real love, I don’t think anyone can find value or benefit from this type of relationship. I’ve recognized relationships where women and men have been treated terribly and say “We’re okay, this isn’t a normal thing. It totally won’t happen again.” They begin to live their lives as if nothing ever happened and feel at ease because their partner actually opened up to them. They find comfort in the fact their partner was honest enough to express his or her true feelings. I’m not saying everything about mania love is bad. Of course, there are times where you need that reassurance from your partner. No one wants the feeling that they are giving more love to the relationship than the other. However, if this love is only one-sided, it becomes too much for one to handle. Consequently, it is completely okay to walk away from the relationship to make sure it doesn’t get the best of you.

Growing up as a child and currently as a teenager, I’ve had the opportunity to observe the relationships of my friends’ parents as well as my relatives. With regard to my friends, many of their parents are divorced. My observations of those relationships lead me to believe the divorce was a necessity. On the other hand, some of my friends’ parents and my relatives’ marriages ended because they ‘fell out of love’ with each other. Meaning, they still had love and cared about each other; however, they just weren’t in love and didn’t have that passion towards one another. Thankfully, I have my parents’ marriage to reflect on and learn from. They have been together for more than 31 years and counting. One may think how their love stands the test of time. My parents make it a priority, for themselves, to maintain constant affection and to spoil each other even with the little things. They truly found each other as their perfect soulmates; and to this day spend quality alone time just to focus on each other, whether that be movie dates or dinner or even taking my dog for a walk together. As I’m getting older, I value how men express themselves and act around me. I hope once I meet that person, he will be my forever and resemble the same characteristics as my father because I see how loved and cherished my mom is.

So, in the beginning I asked if there was a correlation between the strength of love and time? This question is answered albeit by subjective standards as determined by the perception of the individuals involved in the relationship. John Alan Lee observed love as various colors that could either be seen on their own or combined to give a new interpretation on relationships. William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, and Robert Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover signified certain colors, eros, ludus, and mania, that Mr. Lee wanted to convey to society even if they weren’t what we would typically define as love. As generations and societies view keep evolving, only time will tell how individuals decide to express their feelings towards one another. From my experiences, I know what I’m searching for and hope to share that with my loved ones around me.

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