Essay on The Flea by John Donne

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The Flea by John Donne

“The Flea”, a witty poem of seduction and conceit, taken from John
Donne’s “Songs and Sonets” is the poem that I have chosen to compare
to “Song”, another poem of John Donne’s where he is passionately
pleading with his wife not to be disheartened about his departure
abroad.

Both poems which belong to “ Songs and Sonets”, written around the
time of the 16th century, show that their title suggests they are both
short poems, following the traditional form of a sonnet, consisting of
fourteen lines. However, they are not “songs” in the conventional
sense we think of and none of them are written as a sonnet. In fact,
Donne’s poems were intended for circulation around his local pub,
“Lincoln’s Inn”, where he
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He reveals an
attitude that is persuasive, but manipulative by saying that since
they are one in the flea, they should make love anyway, seeing as they
are already joined. I question whether this is love, or lust?

Donne presses on with his argument, he develops a series of
persuasions to attempt his mistress into bed with him:

“ How little that thou deny’st me is.”

Here, Donne is again being manipulative; he is scornful and is
appealing to her to see how desperate he is for her to agree. By
using a triple structure, he is appealing to her knowledge and is
showing emphasis:

“ Thou know’st that this cannot be said

A sinne, nor shame, nor loss of maiden head”

Here Donne has asked his mistress not to kill the flea, cleverly
revealing that it would be suicide since both her and Donne are joined
as one in this flea. He uses a hyperbole, the deliberate exaggeration
of saying this would be a murder, thus creates effect. He uses
emotional blackmail and accusatory towards his mistress. However, the
argument is turned around, when she retorts that neither of them are
worse off in this act, to which he proceeds a mock concession,
pretending to give into her point. The final few lines of the final
stanza show a reversal. Donne agrees with his mistress’ argument, he
can see how she would be right when she claims that killing a flea is
so unimportant. However, there…