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The Flea by John Donne as a metaphysical poem

 The Flea

- by John Donne

a metaphysical poem

The Flea by John Donne as a metaphysical poem

Q. ‘The Flea’ by John Donne as a metaphysical poem

Answer: The poem "The Flea" is a poem of spiritual love composed by John Donne, an English metaphysical poet.

This poem is written in the form of quite erotic humorous narrative. The main themes we find in this poem are love, sex and temptation. These themes have been created using a conceit of an insect, the flea.

Significantly, the flea is a type of insects that survives by eating blood. Here, the speaker of the poem tries to persuade a lady to sleep with him, arguing that if their blood is mixed with flesh, they are innocent; their sexual intercourse will also be innocent. There are three different stanzas in this poem. The rhyme plan of this poem is AABBCCDDD.

In the very first stanza, the speaker tells his loved one to look at the insect in front of them and notice the “how little” thing she denies. Here the speaker is comparing his need for intercourse with a little flea. The speaker is annoyed by the denial of his beloved and wants to convince his loved one that sex is a small thing like an insect. He says about the flea that it first sucked his blood, then her blood, so that now, inside the flea, they have merged; and that mixture cannot be called "sin, or shame, or loss of mind." Here the speaker compares his loved one along with their blood that is instilled inside the flea. Even their blood is now mixed inside the insect. He tries to convince her loved one that the relationship she wants to have with him will never be considered a matter of sin, shame or losing her virginity.

According to the speaker, the flea swelled with their mixed blood. It has united them in such a way that in reality it is more than a desire to love him. Here, we urge the speaker that their relationship goes beyond his desire for intercourse.

When the speaker notices that his loved one is going to kill the flea, he holds her hand. He told her to save three lives inside the flea, for example, his life, her life and the life of the flea. He said that their mixed blood in the flea meant they were more than the married couple and the flea was in their wedding bed and wedding temple.

He explains to her that they are unable to meet and romance because of the annoyance of their parents. Thus, they are still united and bound to the living wall of the flea.

Here, he blames his loved one when he tries to kill the flea. According to him, she is killing three lives while killing the flea. It is suicide because she is effectively killing herself inside the flower. And it is unholy because they are married within the realm. He calls his beloved cruel and sudden who has killed the flea with her nail.

Her nails are now stained with the blood of an innocent flea. He asks about the guilt of an innocent flea that was killed for sucking a drop of blood from her. After killing the fly, his loved one replies that by killing the flea none of them became weak and lost nothing. So, there is not a proper reason for them to have sex. The speaker used his argument that if there is no feeling of fear and loss of respect after killing the flea, then there will be no loss of dignity if they make love. Their union will not harm her reputation.


Read also: 

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👉  Prologue to the Canterbury Tales - summary

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