Comparative Analysis of Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? and The Flea

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Comparative Analysis of "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" by William Shakespeare and The Flea by John Donne

'Shall I compare thee' by Shakespeare focuses on romantic love,

whereas Donne's poem, 'The Flea' is all about seduction and sexual


The situations in the two poems are very different. In 'Shall I

compare thee', the poet is shown as a lover who is addressing his

lady. His tone is gentle and romantic. He starts with a rhetorical

question to which he must answer and therefore he does not put demand

upon the lady. The poem gives the impression that it is set perhaps in

his room, where he is composing his poem. One thing is for sure and

that is that the woman he is addressing is not with him, because all

the way through the poem, there is no response from her. Shakespeare

wants to emphasize her beauty.

In 'The Flea' the poet is directly appealing to the woman or his

mistress. They seem to be in bed together with a flea, but no sex

seems to have taken place. If it had, then the situation would be very

different. The poet has seduced her as far as the bedroom and at this

point, it seems as though he is going to try a new strategy. The woman

does not appear to be very keen and is resisting his advances.

Compared with Donne's poem, in 'Shall I compare thee' the poet is

simply flattering the woman and wants her to like him. It is also

one-sided, unlike in 'The Flea' where the woman gives her views as

well. 'Shall I compare thee' is similar to 'First Love' by John Clare

in this way. In 'First Love', only the poet's views are shown and

therefore it is also one-sided. In 'The Flea' the poet's aim is to

have sex with ...

... middle of paper ...

..., and tetrameters, which are eight syllable lines. Donne

uses an obvious three-part argument, or syllogism, where he uses the

flea to structure it.

Shakespeare uses a sonnet, which was a traditional way of writing

about romantic love. Donne's poem is more intellectual in which he

uses persuasive and rhetorical devices.

The comparison's Shakespeare uses are passionate and interesting, but

Donne's poem is more enjoyable to read since it uses wit and a clever

structure to make it entertaining. The farfetched idea of using a flea

to persuade a woman for sex is very unusual and makes the poem more

enjoyable. Shakespeare's poem is more typical of a love poem, since

the language he uses is more affectionate, but I have found Donne's

more appealing to read because the wittiness and content of the poem

is so unexpected.
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