In “To His Coy Mistress”, Andrew Marvell explores how to push the fear of death out of the consciousness of the mind, something he himself had trouble with.
He reflects his own feelings into the speaker of the poem, who serves to explore the different coping mechanisms for death. The speaker’s repression of death in stanza one, acceptance of its reality in stanza two, and dismission in stanza three reflect the three parts of the speaker’s psyche (Cherry and Gans) struggling to react to death. Marvell passing his fear of death onto the speaker can be seen as an act of sublimation and ultimately reveals his uncertainty on how to react to death in his personal life.At the age of only seventeen years old, Andrew Marvell’s mother passed away. A few years later, his father passed away. The death of his mother and father came just after an important moment in his life – receiving a scholarship (Jokinen).
Swiftly moving from a sudden rise to the abrupt reality of death can only negatively affect one’s character. Marvell then left Cambridge to study abroad, needing to taking time for himself to recover from his parents’ deaths (Jokinen). After returning from his travels, he tutored Mary, the daughter of Lord General Fairfax, and then wrote “To His Coy Mistress” (Jokinene). Many believe Mary was his true inspiration for the poem; whether or not he actually wanted to educate her on the realities of death, it can be concluded that the speaker’s uncertainty about death reflects Marvel’s inability to cope with his parents’ deaths.