English 108 Essay #2
Comparing Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" to Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"
Sir Walter Raleigh created "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" as a response to Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love". In "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love", the Shepherd used puns and other hidden sexual images in an attempt to trick the Nymph into performing sexual acts with him. The Shepherd attempted to persuade the Nymph into believing that he would give her the various presents and pleasures that he described, but in reality his gifts were really only comprised of sexual implications. However, the Nymph was exceptionally intelligent and she trusted her intuition and was able to foresee the Shepherd's hidden seductions. She was so intelligent and cunning that she hastily rejected the Shepherd's proposal by using the Shepherd’s exact words from his request.
The Shepherd in Marlowe's poem used disguised sexual images in hope that the Nymph would be attracted to him. The Shepherd first offered the Nymph "...valleys, groves, hills, and fields, woods, or steepy mountain yields"(3-4). He hopes that the Nymph would interpret the images as places he would like to take her, but in reality the he was merely describing the various parts and curves of her body that he would like to explore. The Nymph replies to his offer by stating, "The flowers do fade, and wanton fields, to wayward winter reckoning yields” (9-10. Which means that things change and though the Shepherd has a sexually unrestrained body, that through time he will become headstrong and unwilling to continue the sexual pleasures.
The Shepherd offered the Nymph actual gifts containing sexual significance. In one example, the Shepherd offers the Nymph "...a kirtle, embroidered all with leaves of myrtle" (11-12). A kirtle was an informal skimpy gown and myrtle is a flower of love. The Shepherd hoped that the Nymph would wear the kirtle, so that he may have easier access to her sexual body parts. He hoped the Nymph would accept the kirtle to be a gift of love, and that she would not recognize the actual purpose behind the gown
As the poem continues, the Shepherd offers the Nymph "a belt of straw and ivy buds" (17). The belt and the buds represent the Nymph's waist and breasts, which he had a desire to fondle. The Nymph replies "Thy belt of straw and ivy buds/all these in me no means can move" (17-20). She said that his fondling would not sway her into having relations with him.
Not only was the Shepherd incredibly cunning in his use of disguised images; he was also very creative in trying to trick the Nymph into having sex with him. These puns were used so that the Nymph would not see the actual meaning behind the things the Shepherd alleged. For example, the Shepherd stated, "I will make thee beds of roses" (9). He meant, that he would give her a sexy and seductive atmosphere for them to have sex in. However, he wanted the Nymph to believe that his offers were romantic and that they did not imply that he wanted sex. The Nymph knew his underlying meaning and responded by saying "...thy bed of roses...soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten; In folly ripe, in reason rotten" (13-16). She implies that if she agreed to have sex with the Shepherd that his desire to continue having sex would decrease and he would soon lose his passion and desire.
The shepherd replied by stating that "if these pleasures may thee move, come live with me and be my love" (19-20). The word "pleasures" in this quote can mean either the gifts as "pleasures" of as the shepherd meant if the sexual "pleasures have moved you, then come live with me so that we may continue making these "pleasures". Arguably the most crucial line from the Nymph’s reply is "If truth in every shepherd's tongue these pretty pleasures might me move" (2-3). She tells the Shepherd that she...
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