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Representing the Sea in Andrew Marvell’s ‘Advice to a Painter’ Satires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-86
Number of pages16
JournalReview of English Studies
Issue number273
Early online date28 Aug 2014
DateE-pub ahead of print - 28 Aug 2014
DatePublished (current) - Feb 2015


This article reads Marvell’s ‘Advice to a Painter’ satires in the context of a maritime community under great pressure during the Second Anglo-Dutch war. Marvell parodies courtly representations of naval triumph to expose tensions within the maritime community, which involved the court, navy veterans and maritime institutions which Marvell represented as an MP for the port of Hull. I argue that these poems are shaped significantly not only by the challenges of representing Hull in this context, but also by the parliamentary scripts—here a Commons enquiry into the ‘miscarriages’ of the war—through which maritime communities might gain a hearing in Parliament. The Last Instructions presses questions for the enquiry to answer, and elicits from its readers forensic attention to navy corruption. In this way, Marvell questions and problematizes the relationship between England’s navigation and the national interest, at a time of rapid commercial and imperial expansion.



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