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What Is Love Worth?


A typical situation, in these modern times is the picture of a man and woman living together without marriage. Even more common than this is a man claiming his love and life for a woman then moving on after he becomes bored with her. This idea between man and woman hasn’t changed over the years. In “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”, by Christopher Marlowe and “The Nymphs Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh, shows this battles. The question is if the love is real or superficial, and also if it’s everlasting true love.


The idea that love or infatuation is so strong that it can take man’s emotion and lust to blind him and tool him into believing it’s love is a terrifying thought. Marlowe begins a plea with the Lady, by promising to “all pleasures prove”. His first proposal only offers experiences that can be shown or felt by either lust, or lies. Figuring he can use his honey-sweet talk, to win her over, then never be held accountable for his promises. The shepherd next moves to complimenting her beauty and by speaking of “coral clasps and amber studs”, which of course can’t compare to her. Speaking only of gifts that are beautiful alludes to his fascination with her own beauty. Material gifts that can only be used and remembered in the physical world, are sadly ignored by Marlowe, but recognized by Raleigh. Never commenting on anything that is found with in his heart, but only speaking of skin-deep gifts, justifies Raleigh’s anger in “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherds.”


What can you expect if it is only skin-deep not true love. Recognizing that the Shepherds love only remained true with youth, Raleigh asks “But could youth last and love still breed.” The Nymphs response understands its only her beauty that had captured his heart. A beauty that will soon fade as her youth passes her by. Alluding to time as a murderer in line 12 “Is fancy’s spring; but sorrows fall.” Is a constant motif in the Nymphs reply to the Shepherd. Using fall as a pun, meaning that just like in the regular year fall comes at the end, so will her “fall” at the end of her youth. Knowing that all Marlowe’s words will end when her beauty has ended forces Raleigh to refuse the offer to be his lady. Raleigh keeps his head throughout this entire saga, never allowing any emotions to blind him into falling for Marlowe’s trap of lies.


Many lovers question questioning if love can be eternal or just trivial flings. Raleigh asks, “Time drives the flock from field to field.” Coming straight to the point and asking Marlowe if his love will be inconsistent, and change just as the seasons. The reply made by Raleigh implies that it is common for this Shepherd had supposedly changed from one lady to the next. In fact, Raleigh’s next reply asks why Marlowe speaks of roses and fine slippers, when they will “soon wither, soon forget.” Telling the Shepherd his gifts to win the heart of the Lady are only temporary, much like his love. Raleigh realizes the superficiality of Marlowe’s confession and refuses to comply with his demands.


The idea of eternal love is plausible but not too common for the shepherds of the day. The Shepherd talks about “beds of roses and the finest wool.” Both of these items can only obtained in spring. Speaking only in and about spring makes one believe his love is very fickle. Roses can not bloom in the winter, and neither can this Shepherd love. Specifying a actual date in line 26 “For thy delight each May morning” this date, only apples in spring. Spring is a symbol of time, which means “rebirth” is the only time the Shepherd would acknowledge her. A May morning that can only last thirty days, is no option for a real Lady to accept. “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” understands the fact that she can not accept his proposal nor his questions of love, because their shallowness, and vanity.


 

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