"TO HIS COY MISTRESS"

 

CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR "TO HIS COY MISTRESS"

In his provocative cry to carpe diem (seize the day), Marvell’s speaker in “To His Coy Mistress” issues a challenge to contemporary beliefs about female sexuality. The Reformation years witnessed a shift away from the medieval church’s embrace of celibacy to an emphasis on “holy matrimony.” Yet seventeenth-century preachers would emphasize similarly the importance of female chastity in marriage and warned also of the moral and spiritual repercussions of lust.

To view each document and to respond to the accompanying questions, click on a title below:
> John Chrysostom, “On Virginity”
> Henry Bullinger, “Fifty Godly and Learned Sermons Divided into Five Decades”
> William Perkins, “Christian Oeconomy”

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