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Metaphysical Poetry In John Donne's The Flea

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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. Although the poem does not have irregular lines or stanzas, the complexity of the alternating meters marks a noticeable difference to other forms of poetry that do not have a similar scheme. Despite the uniformity of these alternating meters in relation to their stanzas and the overall poem, this might be considered a characteristic of metaphysical poetry. “The Flea” takes on an argumentative form, which is another characteristic of metaphysical poetry, and it is supplemented by the speaker’s use of ironic wit and analogies to religion and marriage.
The first stanza of the poem establishes the one-sided conversation between the speaker and his love interest. He immediately introduces the flea and the action that precedes this conversation by referencing the flea having bitten both himself and her. The word ch...

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... a clear statement regarding the loss of her virginity to him. It doesn’t, however, take into account her own personal feelings, and is a bold conclusion to the argumentative approach he has taken.
Despite the speaker’s best attempt at convincing the woman to have sexual relations with him through his metaphor of the flea, he would appear to be unsuccessful at the end of the poem. His far-fetched and cynical approach belittles both the woman’s virginity and sexual relations outside of marriage in general, and only highlight his lust for her. However, the poem’s metaphysical characteristics which include the primary use of a conceit through the flea, hyperbole, ironic wit to balance the plot between a serious and humorous nature, and an argumentative structure, allow Donne to create a satirical narrative to address the subject of sexual relations outside of marriage.
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