Essay on Sexual Meaning in John Donne's Poem, The Flea

1471 Words 6 Pages
Following a unique poetic language of the Renaissance, John Donne's ‘The Flea' is a poem illustrating the metaphor of a flea to represent the sexual act and relations between a man and woman. Portrayed through language, imagery, and structure John Donne's poem is one of conceit and seduction, as the speaker (assumed to be a man) follows a consistent pattern of persuasion to have premarital sex with a woman.
Written during the 17th century, John Donne utilizes an unconventional genre in his poem, demeaning and objectifying the female sex. A common motif in poems of the Renaissance, Donne uses a flea as a metaphorical comparison to sexual intercourse and the eternal bind between man and woman. Illustrated throughout the poem, Donne
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The metaphor is further enforced in lines 8 and 9 when Donne illustrates the image of the swollen flea "pampered swells with one blood made of two" (line 8) introducing the image of a baby, and the idea of pregnancy. With the possible allusion of a pregnancy Donne is emphasizing that he is attempting to sleep with the woman. Thus, Donne continues to use the image of a flea to unconventionally simplify lovemaking. The absurdity of the poem is portrayed through the use of a flea to convince a woman into bed, when a flea would typically connote repulsiveness, dependency, and something ugly and simple, which mooches off of others. In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker continues to emphasize his conceit, although it has become clear that the woman wants to remove the flea from her body, and consequentially the relationship with the speaker. "Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare" (line 10), the speaker is now relying on guilt, persuading the woman to spare not only the life of the flea, however he goes as far as mentioning the lives of himself and the woman. Drawing a comparison once again to the act of love, the speaker mentions marriage, portraying that the flea has joined them eternally much like a marriage would. Marriage is a significant motif in the second stanza, which also relates to
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