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At first glance, the nature of Donne’s poem "The Flea" appears to be a love poem. It seems as though the male is pursuing the lady and she is resisting his pursuits. If you look deeper, you could even say that the male is trying to convince the woman that the loss of innocence does not mean the loss of honor.
Donne begins the poem by illustrating intercourse as a dirty, shameful thing. He even goes so far to say if a tiny flea can recognize this then a human being sure should be able to see it. The flea bites both the poet and his lover. The poet asks his love to pay attention to the flea and the mixing of their blood in the flea’s body. Donne describes the swelling of the flea’s stomach in terms that it makes it seem as though it’s a pregnancy. (Although not a natural pregnancy….the flea is swollen with their blood…and it seems Donne is alluding to a surrogate pregnancy and some imaginary marriage)
Oddly enough it seems as though Donne is referring to the lady as a black widow spider saying that the woman is apt to kill him after they celebrate this imaginary marriage. This seems to deduce the woman to the position of the flea. The poet is trying to tie the woman and the flea together. If the woman were to kill the flea, then she would be committing suicide in a way. Yet the woman kills the flea anyway.
The male in this poem has construed this fantasy world through the flea. Now that the flea is dead this fantasy world has also been destroyed. The woman explains the killing of the flea as being insignificant. This appears to demonstrate the loss of the woman’s innocence, in that the flea did nothing to deserve death.
Throughout the poem the male has used the flea to illustrate the position that the man and his lover were in. He states that sexual intercourse is a sin, even within legitimate situations. The flea is then used symbolically, through its body, to represent a sexual act between the man and his lover. As t...
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