The flea analysis

The flea analysis - The conceits of John Donne are said to...

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The conceits of John Donne are said to "leap continually in a restless orbit from the personal to the cosmic and back again." The outward nature of Donne's poem The Flea appears to be a love poem; dedication from a male suitor to his lady of honor, who refuses to yield to his lustful desires. A closer look at the poem reveals that this suitor is actually arguing a point to his lady: that the loss of innocence does not constitute a loss of honor. The poet begins his argument by condemning the act of intercourse as a shameful sin. He also belittles it, claiming that if the same effects can be realized within the body of a tiny flea, then the act itself cannot hold tremendous importance. In any case, the act is out of the question in the realm of reality, since the two people in the poem do not appear to be married, so sexual union can only be committed symbolically. The argument then shifts to a different position, where the flea suddenly becomes the entire world of the lovers; the symbolic becomes reality. The act of intercourse loses its importance as the subject in question, and now the loss of all innocence is addressed. There is obviously some action taken by the poet's mistress between the second and third stanzas, as the next segment seems to be a judgment on those actions. The woman has killed the mysterious flea, casting away her innocence and proving his argument for passion through the use of her own words. The poet asks his mistress to notice only this flea, to forget everything else as he delivers his argument. The flea has bitten them both, and their bloods mix within its body. The attention paid to the qualities of blood may be noted here and later in the poem (when the
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ENG 3200 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '07 term at Missouri (Mizzou).

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The flea analysis - The conceits of John Donne are said to...

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