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Allusion in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

Allusion Examples in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd:

Text of the Poem

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"wanton..."   (Text of the Poem)

The adjective “wanton” also refers to a lusty person. In Marlowe’s poem, the speaker uses nature to make his love claims and convince the woman that she belongs with him. Nature assists in his courtship. In the nymph’s reply, the speaker personifies nature as “wanton,” a word with negative connotations of dangerous wildness, in order to show a different side of the natural world the shepherd paints as idyllic.

"Philomel..."   (Text of the Poem)

Philomel is a character from Greek mythology. In the myth, Philomel’s brother-in-law Tereus rapes her and cuts out her tongue so that she cannot tell anyone what happened. She weaves a tapestry to tell her sister what happened, and then the two women kill Tereus’s son and feed the body to him. The gods turn Philomel and her sister into birds to save them after Tereus finds out what they have done. This myth is an example of the danger in unrequited male love, such as the love the shepherd feels for this nymph.

"young..."   (Text of the Poem)

Marlowe’s shepherd promises his love an idyllic, timeless world. However, the nymph replies that the world is not “young.” To make this argument, the nymph draws on Christian theology and humanity’s fall from grace. In the Bible, Adam and Eve enjoy paradise in the garden of Eden, a peaceful place untouched by evil, time, or corruption. When they eat an apple from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they are condemned to mortality. The “young world” is the pre-fallen, Edenic world. The nymph reminds the shepherd that they live in a fallen world and therefore everything he has promised is false.

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