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John Donne's “The Flea“

3 Pages 780 Words

The use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas. Most images in literature suggest or represent concepts or emotions that are difficult to describe or imagine. “Transcendent” symbols are symbols which have no logical or realistic connection to the things they symbolize. Much of the imagery in John Donne’s poem “The Flea” is transcendent imagery which is used to illustrate an argument.
In the first stanza, the narrator tries to persuade his girlfriend to have sex with him by using an analogy involving a flea and religious imagery. The flea has sucked the blood of both the narrator and his girlfriend and now “in this flea, [their] two bloods mingled be.” The image of the two bloods being mingled represents the narrator and his girlfriend becoming one, as happens in a religious sense during sexual intercourse - a physical and spiritual union of two souls. The narrator then goes on to say “Confess it, this cannot be said / A sin, or shame, or loss of maidenhead,” meaning that if a flea can mix their two bloods and it is not a sin, then surely it would not be a sin if they were to become one through intercourse. Then, as another attempt to persuade his girlfriend, the narrator goes on to say: “And pampered swells with one blood made of two, / And this, alas, is more than we would do.” The narrator uses the imagery of “swells with one blood made of two” to represent being pregnant, and claims that his girlfriend would not be pregnant from having sex just one time, although the flea was pregnant from just one mixing of the blood.
In the second stanza, the girlfriend rejects the narrator’s first argument and is about to squish the flea, symbolizing her rejection of the narrator’s argument. The narrator asks his girlfriend to spare the flea because in it “[they] more than married are.” Once again, this statement symbolizes a physical union of the narrator and his gir...

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