The Flea

In the stanza 1, the speaker creates likeness between the fleabite and lovemaking. I interpreted the first two lines, “Mark but this flea, and mark in this, How little that, which thou deny’st me, is;” to mean that the woman doesn’t reject the flea entree to her body, yet she denies the advancements of the speaker. Then the speaker shows the similarities between their lovemaking and the mingling of their blood within the flea. “It sucked me first, and now sucks thee, And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.” This argument shows the woman that the same physical exchange, which takes place between her and a flea, is the same type of union that he has in mind. In lines 5-6 of stanza 1 the speaker persuades the woman that their act could not be considered a sin because a fleabite isn’t considered one. This act could not be considered a loss of innocence because it is so common that if it were to be true, nearly everyone would have lost his or her innocence. Therefore this lady should not be troubled about giving herself to him before they marry, because their only act is the mixing of their blood. The poet introduces the idea of the baby in the final lines of stanza 1. “And pampered swells with one blood made of two, And this, alas! Is more than we would do.” This line describes the physical changes that happen to a flea’s body after it fills with blood. The flea is now considering the baby produced by their bloods.

In the second stanza the speaker ask the women to spare the life of the flea because if she kills it she would kill three lives as well. Not only that, the flea (the baby) has joined them eternally, the same way marriage would join them. “Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare, Where we almost, yea more than, married are. This flea is you and I, and this Our marriage bed and marriage temple is.” Since they have already the marital bond, making love would not be considered a sin. Lines 14 and 15 of stanza 2, “Though parents grudge, and you, we are met, and cloistered in these living walls of jet,” describes how her parents do not accept that what he says is marriage. But last lines of stanza 2, the speaker argues that if she kills the flee she would be committing murder. “Though use make you apt to kill me, Let not to that, self-murder added be, And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.” She would kill the symbolic marriage realm and the baby. In addition to those murders, she would be killing herself.

In the last stanza, the woman has killed the flea and in doing so she has killed the child. “Cruel and sudden, hast thou since purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?” The speaker then brings up the point that the child is innocent and all the baby did wrong was choosing her as a mother. “Wherein could this flea guilty be, Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?” The next two lines indicate that she is happy, but the speaker says that she should not. “Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou Find’st not thyself, nor me, the weaker now.” She should not be cheerful because her choice to kill led to her loss of innocence. And the speaker ends the argument in the subtext of the third stanza saying that since she has already loss her innocence by killing the flea, she might as well give into him because she cannot lose her innocence again.

“The Flea” by John Donne, an English poet and clergyman, was one of the greatest metaphysical poets. His poetry was marked by conceits and lush imagery. The Flea is an excellent example of how he was able to establish a parallel between two very different things. Donne adopts a cynical and rather flippant tone towards his woman, using his wit to try to belittle and overcome her moral arguments for immediate pleasu

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