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An analysis of “The Flea” by John Donne
The British Library. Retrieved College Literature. The Norton Anthology of English Literature 6th ed. Donne's Poetry: Essays in Literary Analysis. Yale University Press. Cambridge Core.
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The Cambridge Companion to John Donne. Cambridge University Press. Poetry Foundation. The Imaginative Conservative.
Bradford The Sewanee Review. Works by John Donne. Hidden categories: CS1 errors: missing periodical Articles needing additional references from October All articles needing additional references All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from October All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from October It sucked me first, and now sucks thee, And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be l.
Indeed this seems a highly complex method of persuasion, but once analysed, is quite logical. Donne asserts that both their bloods have already joined together and mixed in the body of the flea, 'And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be'. Donne is decreasing the importance of the sexual act by saying this happens in the body of the flea, so why shouldn't we do it - 'this, alas, is more then we would do'.
The poet then expands on the intellectual tone of persuasion by using the image of them inside the flea, coming together at an altar;. The poet develops a religious tone to the poem as the woman attempts to kill the flea, asserting that to do so would be blasphemous, described as 'sacrilege, three sins in killing three'. The religious tone, which adds drama, continues with images portrayed in the death of Christ; 'purpled', 'nail', 'blood of innocence', as the flea is killed. This intellectual argument is ended with an assertion that there will be no more loss to the woman in going to bed with him than there was when she killed the flea; 'Just so much honor, when thou yield'st to me, Will waste'.
Clearly such psychology is disturbing, although clever and witty in context, the emotion of the sexual act is forgotten by the poet. It is quite easy to form a similar opinion to Samuel Johnson in reaction to this particular metaphysical poem;. Their thoughts are often new, but seldom natural; they are not obvious and the reader, far from wondering that he missed them, wonders more frequently by what perverseness of industry they were ever found.
Johnson in ed. Greene, , p.
Analysis of “John Donne’s” “The Flea” Free Essays - smelkichliatemp.tk
The intellectual style of metaphysical poetry removes it to a certain extent from the vicissitudes of life. Donne makes use of language and discourse which are obviously not 'poetical'. Things which are completely unlike are- brought together, so a certain sense of artificiality remains. This is the very nature of the metaphysical conceit, where far fetched comparisons are made through convoluted or unlikely metaphors, where 'heterogeneous ideas are yoked together' Johnson in ed. This rather violent technique makes the reader see things in a different way, as is certainly true of Donne's No.
This method has been criticised for containing 'a combination of dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike' Johson in ed. In attempting to be ingenious and creative, the greater power of the intellect takes over, the intricate train of thought then becomes too advanced and complex, the reader sometimes misreading the intentions of the poet. In such as the Holy Sonnets No. It seems like ingenuity for its own purpose, or the creative impulse of the poet taking over, producing an obscure and unpleasant poem.
Experiences which have normally been kept apart in the mind are now yoked together, in an unsettling manner, the revered God is now addressed in desperate, aggressive terms; 'Batter my heart, three-personned God' such are the violent, shocking and colloquial terms employed in the initial conceit as the poet calls for salvation. This modulates through the poem to the disconcerting final paradox where Donne calls to be redeemed and purified, only possible if, as the poet deliberately puts it, God 'ravishes' him.
So God is addressed in terms of sexual desire; 'never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me'. A conflict is established between religious chastity and 'ravishing'. The violent and awkward juxtaposition is strange; did Donne include this purely to shock and challenge the reader to new ways of thinking that challenged past beliefs in which views on public duty and private relationships, and sex and religion were confused, to evoke fear and excitement, or true to metaphysical aims to work the intellect of the reader, and achieve an emotional response through doing this?
It would be hard to say that Donne valued intellect above the expense of emotion in this particular poem or he would never have written about such shocking subject manner, or chosen such a violent juxtaposition of themes- the very fact he chose to do this intellectually is because he knew it would evoke an emotional response. I think this is typical of much of Donne's poetry, in that intellect and emotion go hand in hand, each supporting the other. Through this I feel Donne attains a very real sense of human experience.
He writes about love in terms of religion, the flea for example, with its references to the 'temple' 'sacrilege' 'purpled' 'nail' 'blood of innocence' and in his religious poetry he discusses religious purity in terms of sexual desire. This confusion gives a rich portrayal of human experience as everything is seen as a whole, intermingled, without categories for sexuality, faith and so on, a sense of coherence and unification is achieved.
He aims to triumph over the female's reluctance by exploiting the 'male vigour of his intellect' Legouis, , p.
Marvell uses wit and rhetorical skill by expanding in a rather fanciful way a relatively simple argument. He uses the metaphysical style in that he presents intellectual ideas and references to which he then has to prove the comparison and connection. Firstly, for example, he refers to time and space in reference to his enduring love;. I would love you ten years before the flood, And you should, if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews l.
By referring to the Great Flood, and the future events associated with the Jews Marvell is able to show the validity of his love through time's passing. An analogy is used to describe his love later as 'vegetable love' an intellectual idea of the fruit growing, thereby humanising love as something physical which grows, and in this context seemingly the poet would want us to believe, without conscious nurturing.
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Thine eyes, and on the forehead gaze; Two hundred to adore each breast, But thirty thousand to the rest l. This clever manipulation of the blazon then turns with a sexual innuendo to the woman's sexual organs. The fact that this is intended to be ambiguous reveals Marvell's skill in intellectual poetry, and the fact that although witty, this particular poem or poet? This is an inventive method of persuasion, the use of 'time's' and 'hurrying' give a sense of urgency, along with 'chariot' which seems to give the image of something speeding out of control.
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