The Persuasive Tone of The Flea

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The Persuasive Tone of The Flea

John Donne, a member of metaphysical school in the Seventeenth century, exhibited his brilliant talent in poetry. In "The Flea," he showed the passion to his mistress via persuasive attitude. The tone might straightforwardly create playfulness or sinfulness; yet, the poem contains none of either. What impress readers most is situation and device. The situation between the speaker and the audience is persuasion, love or marriage. As to device, the notable parts are diction and rhetoric skills. Furthermore, unique characteristics of this poem are also an important element of his persuasive tone.

First of all, the situation created by Donne is remarkable. Although there is only one speaker in "The Flea," the poem itself reveals a profound interaction between speaker and audience. Here is an example: "Mark but this flea, and mark in this," (line 1) and "Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare," (line 10). In line one, the poet asked his coy mistress to notice a flea and explain that the flea symbolized the combination of their love. Whereas, when the poem goes on to the first line of the second stanza, the lady ignores Donne's enthusiasm by intending to slay the flea. From the two lines, it shows the female's emotional reaction to Donne's persuasion, which provokes his urge by applying poetic device in the poem.

One of Donne's famous poetic devices is diction. Again in line one and ten appear "Mark" and "Oh stay." These words are denotations of strong causative voice in order to obtain mistress' attention. In addition to diction, another outstanding part is his rhetoric skill. For example, "Me it sucked first, and now sucks thee," (line 3). His using different ...

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iv[iv] Helen Gandner, ed., John Donne: A Collection of Critical Essays. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1962) 47.

Works Cited

Dyson, A. E.. Donne: Songs and Sonnets. Houndmills: Macmillan Education, 1973.

Gandner, Helen, ed. John Donne: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1962.

Larson, Deborah Aldrich. John Donne and Twentieth Century Criticism. Cranbury: Associated University Press, 1989.

Marotti, Arthur F.. John Donne: Coterie Poet. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986.

Novarr, David. The Disinterred Muse: Donne¡¦s Texts and Contexts. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980.

Nutt, Joe. John Donne: The Poems. London: Macmillan Press, 1999.

Witherspoon Alexander M., and Warnke Frank J., ed.. Seventeenth Century Prose and Poetry. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963, 2nd.
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