Monday, February 18, 2008

John Donne "The Flea"

1.) Donne, John The Norton Introduction to Poetry. J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th edition. New York: Norton, 2007. 97-98.
You can find this poem at this website:

2.) I feel that this poem is talking about a man spending time with his lover trying to get her to sleep with him. He may even be trying to seduce her into giving him her virginity. The speaker notices that a flea has bitten them both and feels that this brings them closer together. He feels that their blood is now mixed together, and that there should be no reason for them not to go further with their relationship. But, the girl kills the flea in an attempt to kill the speakers reasons for sleeping together. But, the man is clever and says that she lost nothing by killing the flea which mingled their blood, so therefore she would lose nothing by sleeping with him.

3.) I thought it was interesting that the speaker was so desperate to seduce this girl that he could see a flea as a symbol of their intimacy. I liked how he told her that because the flea has tasted both their blood, that it was as if they were now married. I thought that the whole poem was humorous. It was a good example of the stereotypical male trying desperately to win a woman over.

4.) This poem reminded me of "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell which we read a few classes back. The speaker was also trying to persuade a woman to sleep with him. He also sounded very desperate in his approach.
Marvell,Andrew The Norton Introduction to Poetry. J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th edition. New York: Norton, 2007.106.


Melissa Kerrigan said...

I must admit, I founf this poem extreamly confusing the first time I read through it. But after reading it a few times and reading your description, it started to make a little more sense. I think it was the choice of words that makes the reading difficult. What you feel the poem is about is a good way to look at it. The flea definately symbolizes something. Perhaps the writer chose to use these complex words because the whole aspect of seducing and symbolism is a complicated idea.

Feras said...

This was a hard read, but with your description and reading it countless times i have an idea. Your interpretation seems very valid, but i think that the flea symbolizes the girls innocence. She is a virgin, but when the flea sucked her blood and his and he claims they are now as good as married, it could be that the flea in a symbolic way died and took the girls innocence with it. Since, the man seemed to woo her already it could also be seen as since he has the girl there is no more use for the flea.

woodstl said...

While John Donne's imagery in "The Flea" seems to be much more vivid in comparison to Marvell's in "To His Coy Mistress," I think that it loses some of its appeal in the language used. I know that I would rather read "To His Coy Mistress" because the words seem to flow in a more natural manner, negating the thees and thous. I like "The Flea." But, I just love "To His Coy Mistress." Overall, though both express such an interesting sentiment that still rings true today.