Ironic Symbolism in the the Flea and Unkknown Citizen

2414 Words10 Pages
Chloe McKee
English 112- Formal Essay 1
February 28, 2011
Morals, Personality and True Identity

Ironic Symbolism is used to define the conflicts within “The Flea” by John Donne and “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H Auden by having a significant object, which is a flea and a monument, which represent a conflict that is portrayed throughout the poem. The flea represents three different arguments that are introduced in each stanza based on sex and the morals behind it. The monument in the “Unknown Citizen”, symbolizes the model citizen only based on statistics and not the true identity of the human such as their personality. Both these authors create a compelling conflict with arguments and evidence which can be portrayed through the ironic
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Therefore, it is suggesting that sex would also be unimportant considering the circumstances. All of this plays into the idea that he is trying to make his lover decrease the value she places on her virginity. He uses the idea that if the whole body is seen as less important, then each part of the body would also seem less important. Therefore, the lover would not be so concerned with protecting her virginity and would just give it up.
Donne then introduces the image of the flea as their “marriage bed and marriage temple” (l.13). This emphasizes the intimate nature of the mingling of blood presented earlier. The flea is a place where the two lovers can have a marital relationship. Donne is suggesting that the mingling of their blood is affiliated to marriage. The conclusion that he would like his lover to come to is that if they can be considered married in the body of a flea, why can they not have that same relationship and all the physical aspects that go along with it in the real world. In the final three lines of the second stanza he compares the killing of the flea to murder. It would be “three sins in killing three” (l 18) since he and his lover would be killed within the flea if she were to follow her natural tendency to kill the insect. He even states that the act of killing the flea would be “sacrilege” (l.18). This means that it would be an offence to religion. If the lover denies the fact that their blood

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