1 October 2013
The Flea by John Donne- Analysis
In John Donne’s poem, The Flea, an extended metaphor of a flea is utilized to persuade a woman, a woman whom the speaker lusts after, to sacrifice her purity and her innocence to him. We learn of the speaker’s intentions through the first person voice of a young man. The speaker ventures to persuade his lover to spare the life of both herself and of the flea in the line, “ /O stay, three lives in one flea spare/ ” (Donne 10) - the three lives representing his, hers and the fleas. Essentially he is preaching that if she were to kill the flea she would be not only kill the parasite, but her lover and herself as well. In contrast, this line could also be interpreted as making a nod to the Christian ideal of three beings represented in one- the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy spirit). Within this allusion to Christianity, it can also be understood that the speaker is implying that the woman would be committing sacrilege by taking the life of the flea- a little extreme. Donne is known for creating an enticing mix of religion and eroticism; this mix being especially controversial for the time that his poetry was written in- a time where having sex before marriage was largely unacceptable. Adding more to the controversy surrounding his erotic take on a simple flea is his background and the consideration that he was “the greatest preacher of his time.”
In the next lines, “/this flea is you and I, and this/ Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is/ ” (Donne 12-13), the speaker contends that by biting both of them, their pure blood has already been mixed within the flea and therefore done away with any purity they may have had. He pushes that mixing came without any obvious consequences, so the narrator insists that sexually mixing will also produce no negative consequences. The succeeding lines provide the reader with insight into the relationship of the two, “/though parents grudge, and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document