Essay on John Donne - the Flea

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“The Flea” by John Donne, written in the 17th century and first published in 1633 is a poem about persuasion, in that the narrator is trying to convince his partner to have sex with him. It isn’t a love poem, neither is it particularly crude or sexual. Donne manipulates the imagery of the flea into a conceit, in that the speaker is metaphorically using it as a persuasive tool in his bid to form a sexual union with the female. This in conjunction with the rhythm and rhyme scheme really puts emphasis on the flea and it’s ulterior meaning. In the first stanza he says to her ‘’And in this flea our bloods mingled be” this is in response to the flea biting the pair of them. His suggestion is that the couple are united within the flea and their union could only be strengthened by intimacy. Contextually, Religion and marriage were deemed a lot more important than they are today, and both the male and the female involved would’ve been in extreme trouble if they were caught in any sexually compromising position. “This flea is you and I’’ He is saying that the flea is the pair of them as a result of it’s biting. Furthermore, he states ‘’this our marriage bed, and marriage temple is’’ through the flea, in the speaker’s promiscuous eyes, they may as well already married. Their consummation, although before marriage, would not hurt them only unify them. Unsurprisingly the woman doesn’t buy this idea, immediately killing the flea, “Cruel and sidden has thou since purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?” a clear refusal of his sexual request. She continues, by stating that neither of them have been weakened by the flea’s killing and as such it is not entwined with them. The speaker quickly turns this around saying ‘when thy yield’st to me, will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee”. The woman has lost nothing by killing the flea; he is stating that she wouldn’t lose anything if they were to have sex either. Technically, the poem’s rhythm is used to add emphasis to...
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