Summary Of Donne's The Flea

874 WordsNov 15, 20174 Pages
Is sex before marriage wrong? The debate of when it is appropriate to have sex is one that stretches far back in history and is still going on today. Sex, for many cultures and religions, is linked to marriage where two people unite as one. However, the urges of youth are powerful and intense and can be thought of as natural. In the animal kingdom, no animal is shamed for following its desires whereas in human society, differing views allow discussion and even persuasion. In “The Flea,” Donne explores the theme of should one follow their desires or societal rules through the use of metaphor, symbolism and structure. Donne uses an unconventional analogy to reveal new insight into the meaning of the work as a whole. Throughout the poem, the…show more content…
Donne utilizes symbolism to highlight the contrasting views within the poem. The speaker explains that he and the woman are already united by saying, “This flea is you and I, and this / Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is” (12-13). The symbol of the marriage bed and marriage temple emphasize the speaker’s effort to lay with the woman. In contrast, the woman crushes and kills the flea, which is the speakers symbol for sex, to show that she rejects his offer. These actions make clear that the speaker embodies natural desires while the woman embodies societal values. Another symbol throughout the poem is blood. After the woman kills the flea the speaker asks, “Cruel and sudden, hast thou since / Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?” (19-20). To the speaker, blood is a part of him and holds his essence. This allows him to justify his pursuit to make love to the woman he is addressing. Moreover, he views the woman’s blood with the same importance as his own and sees the flea’s death as homicide and “self-murder” (17). The woman’s disregard for symbolic nature of the flea and the blood it holds highlights her unwillingness to court with the speaker. Together, these symbols emphasize the speaker’s and the woman’s differing views in order to reveal insight into the conflict between nature and society. Donne effectively employs structure to provide understanding of the speaker’s character as well as to reveal insight

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