Andrew Marvell’s “Ametas and Thestylis Making Hay Ropes” is an entertaining critique of the limitations in the 16th century. The oppression applied by the those who occupied power on literature had deeply influenced the characteristic of classic literature that is still being analyzed and as a result, poets needed to express their emotions on such matter by using a satiric and didactic tone. Likewise, Marvell achieved the same results in his symbolic poem addressed for a taboo within that time. Although the poem also has an entertainment purpose, Marvell combines the usage of the title, literary devices and a criticizing tone to produce an allegoric piece of poetry.
One of the ways that Marvell uses while trying to indicate his critique is at the very beginning, the title. The title of the poem seems narrowed down and basic at the first look; however, it gets more conveying as the poem itself is read. The title is “Ametas and Thestylis Making Hay Ropes” and it is based on an action that takes place with two different perspectives. Therefore, it indicates that a series of events is going to be taking place that leads to a conclusion, in other words, a message. On top of this fact, it has a historical significance implying his real aim on writing this poem. Ametas is one of the surnames that was originated in US, which means “a gift of God”. Marvell’s actual purpose of using this name is underlining the importance of sexuality in personal relationships by expressing it as a blessed gift of God, waiting to be used without any timidity. Another name symbolization that Marvell uses is Thestylis, which belongs to a Greek mythology character, a young female slave. This genuinely indicates how woman was seen in 16th century, as sexual objects. The poet criticizes this image of woman to create a condemn for the society for not raising a voice about it. Consequently, the title that Marvell uses is purposeful in terms of comprehending the actual goal of the poem.
Another way that Marvell uses is the literary devices, disguising him being spotted in terms of his criticizing manner against the power. Firstly, the poet uses allegories that helps the audience to interpret the situation that Marvell is referring to, rather than being lost within the poem. He uses the hay ropes binding, to address to connecting feature of physical love. This metaphor is conceived with the inspiration of their similarity on connections, hay ropes coiling to become a strong ropelike matter; whereas sex helping people to become one, feeling the intimacy within their relationship. Although the metaphor is palpable to see, Marvell does not directly correlate those two notions to prevent himself from getting caught. Secondly, the usage of ironies has a vital role in Marvell’s piece. Ironies create the juxtaposition with the contrasting perspectives of the poets, defending the freedom of sexuality; and the monarch, advocating the conservatism in the public, censoring sexuality. Both of the narratives constructing the dialogue possess a self-contradicting language that help to compare these aforementioned ideologies in a biased manner, exposing the reader to an idea of liberality in terms of sex. This aspect is the root of the irony that is being built in the poem. Briefly, several ironies can be seen in the poem, which try to compare two different visions.
Lastly, the most prevalent and apparent quality of the narrative that Marvell uses is the criticizing tone. This way of conveying themes and ideas had been a prevalent way in the 16th century due to the new ideologies being spread and as it is seen, Marvell secretly uses this tone to ensure that public is aware of what is going to on the deeper side, rather than only the surface. One example for the satiric tone would be the last couplet, saying “Then let’s both lay by our rope, – and go kiss within the hay”. This couplet criticizes the idea of “mandatory work” limiting the freedom of people, thus disallowing them from being fully dedicated to their work. He defends the feeling of deepness that a sexual connection provides, allowing a person to go deeper rather than staying just as a usual person; exploring the roots of humanity. Secondly, his tone also has a didactic characteristic, for this view of love in the world of conservatism. He depicts sex as a normal life habit that can be done even in the workplace, as Ametas offers to have a relationship in the hay. This way, Marvell aims to clear the wrong definition of sex from people’s minds, enabling them to express what they really feel. Shortly, the tone that the author has is mainly what makes this poem a critique.
In conclusion, numerous aspects give this poem the characteristics of a critique; such as the title, literary devices and the tone. Marvell mainly aims to inform the public about the suppression applied by the monarch even though he also has a purpose of entertaining the public with an extreme situation. The construction of this extreme situation is what creates the irony, the juxtaposition of the reality and the extreme. Without the criticizing tone, the audience could interpret the situation wrongly and the poem would be useless for the poet, Andrew Marvell. The main notion of this poem is exploring the limits set by those in power of the limitless life.
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