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Essay about Love in The Flea and To his Coy Mistress

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Love in The Flea and To his Coy Mistress

Compare the ways John Donne in his poem The Flea and Andrew Marvell
in his poem To his Coy Mistress present the theme of love.

Donne and Marvell’s poems have both similarities and differences, as
they both present the theme of love in an unconventional way and dwell
on it superficially. This can be seen by the way in which both authors
show their views on love, though are clearly just using them as
attempts to seduce their mistresses, who are clearly reluctant. Taking
this into account, I feel that these “love poems” are more about lust
than love and are more focussed on the writer’s efforts of seduction.
Both poems are one sided dialogues between the poet and his mistress.

They do, however, differ in the ways in which they try to portray
their feelings on the topic, with Donne’s “The Flea”, depicting him as
comparing sexual intercourse with the way in which his blood is
mingled with that of his mistress in a flea, which has bitten both of
them. By doing this, he is incorporating 17th Century principles, such
as the belief that sexual intercourse involved the mingling of the two
bloods, and constantly refers to the flea, in an attempt to persuade
his mistress.

Marvell, however, introduces a hypothetical situation to argue his
case, with the central statement that he uses to bring his mistress
round to his line of thought being “Carpe Diem.” This derives from
Latin and translates “Seize the Day,” with Marvell using it to
emphasise that time is against them. The difference here, between the
two poems, is that Donne is saying that they’ve already had sex in the
flea, and therefore the whole affair is no longer a big deal, while
Marvell is suggesting a sense of...


... middle of paper ...


...erious note than Marvell, however, by using some strong biblical
imagery to show his mistress that, by killing the flea she has
committed a sin and, if she realises this, she has shown that she
feels intercourse is no big deal.

Overall, I feel that, rather than being “love” poems, these are both
superficial examples of love, which are actually implicated on lust
and seduction. A factor which supports this theory is that Donne
doesn’t even mention love throughout the entire course of his poem,
while Marvell uses love to show the extent of his feelings for his
mistress and, even then, admits that it is merely vegetable love,
which is a basic concept of love being no more than reproduction, and
therefore sex. I feel that Marvell’s poem can also, however, be
associated with making the most of life, as he clearly argues this
point in “To his Coy Mistress.”


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