Johne Donne's the Flea

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“The Flea” John Donne observes a typical bar, every Saturday night sweat drenched bodies emitting alcohol and pheromones from every pore, exchange conversation, pleasantries, and yes even sex (perhaps not directly in view but certainly eluded to). Is this animalistic, barbaric behavior acceptable? Should sex be taken so lightheartedly? Or do we take it too seriously, guarding sex like it was the Holy Grail, or the secret to life itself? These questions may be to deep and pointed for most to approach, yet John Donne in his poem “The Flea” wades through them like the kiddy pool. In this clever poem Donne uses a flea, blood, and the murder of the flea as an analogy for the oldest most primal exchange, sex. Donne, through symbolic images, not only questions the validity of coveting virginity but also the importance of sex as it pertains to life. The metaphors in “The Flea” are plentiful, but the symbols repeated throughout the poem are clear, beginning with the most prevalent, and the flea. 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. The metaphor develops more as it relates to the other symbols. Blood is used more than once a...

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...e feminine population. In this poem the speaker does not seem to be very respectful of the female he is pursuing. Of course that is conducive to the time but it also says something about the validity of the message of the poem. In synopsis the flea, blood and death of the flea are all used as metaphors for sex, the exchange of life force (a very important thing) within the act of sex (represented as something as insignificant as a flea) and then orgasm, which can feel important and significant for a period of time but is really only as important as the death of a flea. The speaker in this poem hopes to convince his lady to sleep with him by trivializing sex and comparing it to something as insignificant as a flea. Meanwhile I say lady, screw the speaker and the flea you would get more of a commitment from a machine than a guy as afraid of human contact as this one.
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