This small parasitic creature is chalk full of symbolic meaning. During the time this poem was written (the Renaissance) the flea was use in many poems about sex. I derive that in this particular poem the flea is symbolic of the act of sex from the speaker’s remark in the beginning, “Mark but this flea, and mark in this, how little that which deniest me is” the flea is small and inconsequential, his lady denies him sex, which the speaker believes is also petty. The flea is described as a marriage temple and a carrier of life, but in the next stanza as something insignificant and small. The speaker applies a certain duality to the flea and therefore to sex.
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.
Following a unique poetic language of the Renaissance, John Donne's The Flea' is a poem illustrating the metaphor of a flea to represent the sexual act and relations between a man and woman. Portrayed through language, imagery, and structure John Donne's poem is one of conceit and seduction, as the speaker (assumed to be a man) follows a consistent pattern of persuasion to have premarital sex with a woman. Written during the 17th century, John Donne utilizes an unconventional genre in his poem, demeaning and objectifying the female sex. A common motif in poems of the Renaissance, Donne uses a flea as a metaphorical comparison to sexual intercourse and the eternal bind between man and woman. Illustrated throughout the poem, Donne continues to compare the act of love to the actions of a flea, as it attaches itself to its host, sucks the blood, and later dies.
Much debate has arisen over the years about the moral suitability of taking part in sexual intercourse before being married to your true love. In John Donne's “The Flea” this topic is brought up when the speaker of the poem is trying to convince his addressee to partake in sexual intercourse with him although they are not married, by showing her that the act would be no more sinful or shameful than the bite of a flea. He uses the flea as a conceit in three main ways: first, after they have both been bitten, the flea now represents their union by the mixing of bodily fluids. Second, the flea represents innocence and the potential child they may bear together. Finally, he tries to prove that once she yields to his seduction she will have lost no more honour than when she killed the flea.
He tries to persuade his girlfriend that the flea has taken both of their blood which, in the sixteenth century views is equal to having sex and their "two bloods mingled be". When the narrator compares a flea sucking his girlfriend's blo... ... middle of paper ... ...en it comes to having sex. At this point of the poem, the mistress is probably is turmoil as to what she wants to do; she could have sex with her boyfriend to keep him happy and stop him complaining, or she could keep saying no and hold on to her virginity and dignity. The poet recovers the argument by trying to convince the girl that having sex is as painless as squashing a flea. The "honour" of sex, which she has not allowed the narrator, has been wasted upon the death of the flea.
The Flea: Rhetoric and Poetry Mingling In John Donne’s poem, “The Flea”, Donne uses the conceit of the flea to contrast the insignificant size of the flea and the incredibly significant metaphor attached to the flea. The speaker of the poem is talking to a woman, trying to convince her into having sex with him outside of marriage. This poem can be broken into three stanzas, of nine lines each, utilizes the image of the flea to convey three main ideas: the first as a vessel where their essence mingles, second as the institution of marriage, and finally as an insignificant representation of honor which would have no effect on them. Donne’s hyperbolic use of the flea extends through the poem as a metaphysical conceit to convey a logical argument out of something seemingly unrelated to the situation at hand. The speaker starts his argument by first mentioning that the woman has denied the speaker something.
Put simply, John Donne’s “The Flea” is about a man trying to convince his love interest to have sexual relations with him by using a flea that has bitten both of them as a metaphor for their relationship. The speaker argues that the flea, which holds both of their bloods, has become the embodiment of their love and its overall sanctity. Donne’s use of the flea as an extended metaphor of their relationship represents a metaphysical conceit that dramatizes the conflict between the woman losing her virginity to the speaker and the far-fetched attempt of the speaker to emphasize the significance of the flea which is being used to represent a sacred bond between the couple. The poem contains three stanzas of nine lines, all with the same form, and has a rhyming scheme of AABBCCDDD. The first six lines of each stanza have alternating pentameter and tetrameter, with the seventh being a tetrameter, and the last two being pentameters.
Through the third stanza, we find that the woman has killed the flea and therefore quelled any chance of a sexual union between the speaker and his quarry. He has failed once again to gain her favor and seal the deal. While the flea may have been able to take her blood without seduction, the speaker finds excitement in the challenge to live and woo another day. Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” is another attempting at seducing an unwilling woman. “Had we but world enough and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime” (Marvell 1-2).
Next the speaker uses conceit to illustrate the similarities between their lovemaking and the mingling of their blood within the flea. “Me is sucked first, and now sucks the, An in this flea our two bloods mingled be.” The speaker uses this argument to show the woman that the same physical exchange, which t...
There is a similar theme running through both of the poems, in which both mistresses are refusing to partake in sexual intercourse with both of the poets. The way in which both poets present their argument is quite different as Marvell is writing from a perspective from which he is depicting his mistress as being 'coy', and essentially, mean, in refusing him sex, and Donne is comparing the blood lost by a flea bite to the blood that would be united during sex. Marvell immediately makes clear his thoughts in the poem when he says, "Had we but world enough, and time/ This coyness, Lady were no crime", he is conveying the 'carpe diem' idea that there is not enough time for her to be 'coy' and refuse him sexual intercourse and he justifies this thought when he suggests when she is dead, in ?thy marble vault?, and ?worms shall try that long preserved virginity?. He is using the idea of worms crawling all over and in her corpse as a way of saying that the worms are going to take her virginity if she waits until death. Donne justifies his bid for her virginity in a much longer and more methodical way, he uses the idea of the flea taking her blood and mixing it with his, ?It suck?d me first, and now sucks thee?, and then... ... middle of paper ... ...n The Flea) were viewed as extremely inventive and clever in the eyes of the people reading them during the Renaissance period.