Imagery and symbolism in The Mower against Gardens

Sexual imagery

Cherries, photo by Takkk, available through Creative CommonsThe imagery is strong, conveying the Mower's indignation in his complaint. Much of it is sexual: we have mentioned ‘to procreate without a sex' (l.30), perhaps because the new cherry is stoneless. In seventeenth century slang, stones meant ‘testicles'. ‘Seduce' (l.2) suggests that the vice mentioned in the first line is like sexual appetite. As Satan ‘seduced' Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-7), so now man seduces Nature. Incest is suggested by ‘forbidden mixtures' (l.22); sexual immorality in ‘adult'rate' (l.25); sexual luxury in ‘paint ... complexion' (11.12-13) and ‘Seraglio' (or harem); and sexual unnaturalness in ‘Eunuchs' (l.27), echoing the sexless cherry.

Lack of life

There are other striking conceits, however. The enclosed garden is ‘A dead and standing pool of Air' (l.6), a forceful natural image suggesting lack of life and therefore of movement. Enclosure brings not only restraint, loss of freedom; the plants become ‘stupifi'd' and double-minded (l.9). Humans have become tyrants (l.28). Their idols are signified by the new ‘Statues' (l.37).

Investigating The Mower against Gardens
  • Consider the imagery Marvell uses in The Mower against Gardens
    • What images strike you as particularly forceful or original?
    • What personifications does Marvell make?
      • What is the effect of them?
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