This essay Your Name has a total of 2209 words and 8 pages.
"The Flea", a witty poem of seduction and conceit, taken from JohnDonne's "Songs and Sonets" is the poem that I have chosen to compareto "Song", another poem of John Donne's where he is passionatelypleading with his wife not to be disheartened about his departureabroad. Both poems which belong to " Songs and Sonets", written around thetime of the 16th century, show that their title suggests they are bothshort poems, following the traditional form of a sonnet, consisting offourteen lines. However, they are not "songs" in the conventionalsense 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 could impress his male friends with hisbawdy poetic nature. " The Flea", emphatically rejects the Petrarchan tradition of lovepoetry, where the woman is seen as a goddess, an object of desireworth worshipping by a man. Instead, Donne wrote poems that saw theearthy reality of sexual relations between a man and woman. The poem,whose historical convention probably started with Ovid, shows that itwas common in Elizabethan times to envy a flea for its access to thefemale body. Donne throughout the poem makes references to the flea,presenting a conceit produced of wit, integrity and persuasion.The title, which presents the conceit, is in fact the structure of thepoem, the entire poem depends on this conceit. At first, this is apuzzling image to the reader, it seems bizarre and inappropriate. However, as the poem continues, Donne's argument does also, and we seehow reality is conveyed by the vivid imagery of the flea. Donne usesa three-part syllogism in this poem which he delivers in a matter-of-fact- tone:" It sucked me first, and now sucks theeAnd in this flea, our two bloods mingled be"Here Donne shows manipulation towards the woman. He reveals anattitude that is persuasive, but manipulative by saying that sincethey are one in the flea, they should make love anyway, seeing as theyare already joined. I question whether this is love, or lust? Donne presses on with his argument, he develops a series ofpersuasions 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 isappealing to her to see how desperate he is for her to agree. Byusing a triple structure, he is appealing to her knowledge and isshowing emphasis:" Thou know'st that this cannot be saidA sinne, nor shame, nor loss of maiden head"Here Donne has asked his mistress not to kill the flea, cleverlyrevealing that it would be suicide since both her and Donne are joinedas one in this flea. He uses a hyperbole, the deliberate exaggerationof saying this would be a murder, thus creates effect. He usesemotional blackmail and accusatory towards his mistress. However, theargument is turned around, when she retorts that neither of them areworse off in this act, to which he proceeds a mock concession,pretending to give into her point. The final few lines of the finalstanza show a reversal. Donne agrees with his mistress' argument, hecan see how she would be right when she claims that killing a flea isso unimportant. However, there is a clever finish to Donne'sargument, and one that reveals a lot about his attitude to love andwomen. He shows impudence and confidence when he says that no harmhas been done, equally there would there be no harm done if they wereto make love. This shows how he thinks the act of love is so little,he is comparing it to the killing of a flea, a creature so small. Donne reveals his attitude to women throughout this whole poem. Isthis a poem of love, seduction or lust? It is indeed genuinelypersuasive and a poem that certainly carries an intellectual argumentthroughout, but is the poem a compliment to the women, or a means ofsatisfying the male desire resulting in it being highly offensive tofeminists. It is certain that Donne seems to be enjoying himself ashe puts forwards his argument, there is no doubt it is full of cleverpersuasions, making him appear witty. But does this show that he ismore interested in this clever, witty and persuasive argument, or inhis mistress? As readers, his ingenuity has to be admired, it iscertainly a
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