John Donne's "the Flea", a Critical Analysis Essay

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Since the beginning of time, one of the most captivating and yet elusive of all emotions has been love. Back in the 17th century most male poets wrote about woman's beauty, while others romanticized lustful inclinations in poetry. The cliché "love at first sight," is too often idealized to be the epitome of "true love"; most poets will uphold to the prior statement such as John Donne and Andrew Marvell. In John Donne's "The Flea" Donne expresses his love for a woman without having touched her. On the other hand, Andrew Marvell in "To My Coy Mistress," glorifies and adores the woman's beauty; however there is a sense of urgency in his words and an underlying sexual current as well. Nonetheless, both poets attempt to persuade their…show more content…
Donne cleverly asserts that no "sin, nor shame" was lost and her virginity and purity is still intact, "nor loss of maidenhead." And because of this, she should cherish the flea, which is the symbol of their relationship. On the other hand, an insect does not make decisions as humans do and acts according to its instincts; making its' actions random. "Wherein could this flea guilty be, / except in that drop it sucked from thee?" The random act of the flea sucking both Donne and his sweethearts' blood happened by coincidence. That coincidence Donne claims is the best way to share their "love" for each other when he says," Just so much honor, when thou yield'st to me, / Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee" (lines 26-27). If the woman slept with Donne, then she would be dishonored, and he does not want her "wasted" away. Whereas, if she kills the flea then the union of their lives--their relationship--will die as well. Though Donne attempts to convince the woman of his love via the flea, Marvell's method is more direct and less particular.

Marvell's method of persuading the woman is overly eager and immodest to the point of animalistic copulation. He is solely attracted to her beauty, yet her modesty is a barrier for him to win her over with time being his main enemy. "That long preserved virginity, / And your quaint honor turn to dust/ And into ashes
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