Hyperbole is a figure of speech that serves as a poetic exaggeration of an event, characteristic, or phenomenon. This figure of speech is widely employed by Andrew Marvell in his poem “To His Coy Mistress.” The artistic piece revolves around a male narrator who declares his love for the female character. To show how overwhelming the narrator’s feelings are, Marvell uses hyperbolic constructions such as “my vegetable love should grow / Vaster than empires.” The main character is experiencing such strong infatuation, that he feels like he will never run out of compliments to make: “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.”
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From the reading, it becomes clear that this love is not meant to be. In the entire poem, the narrator ideates about what could have happened had he and the object of his desire more time. While it is very unfortunate, the tone of the poem does not seem to be too tragic. Instead, it feels rather light-hearted – the narrator appears to be accepting of life’s mishappenings. At times, the poem even becomes whimsical: the narrator playfully exaggerates his feelings in an array of metaphors and hyperboles. Sometimes, it is even hard to tell whether he is being serious or not. In the end, the narrator acknowledges that time will never stand still for him to enjoy his lover. Yet, they could build a passionate relationship on their own terms: “Thus, though we cannot make our sun / Stand still, yet we will make him run.”
In summation, it is safe to assume that Marvell uses hyperbole to show the almost endearing foolishness and irrationality of love.