An Analysis of "The Flea" by John Donne

Categories: John Donne

The flea, written by John Donne is another poem containing love, sex and religious beliefs. One of John Donne's characteristics is to always consist of these 3 primary subjects in his poems. The Flea represents lust, but a desire with respect for women. The topic of this poem has to do with a couple of lovers lying in bed. He wishes to take her virginity far from her. In essence, the meaning of this quote: "And in this flea our two bloods socialized be" suggests that the flea has bitten both fans which their blood is socialized in the flea.

The act of having sexual intercourse is thought about to be an exchange of physical fluids, not necessarily being all about love and lust. The enthusiast likewise feels some type of jealousy because the flea has actually currently mingled with her prior to their marriage, and he has not, or in the poem referred to regarding befroe "charm".

The vocabulary utilized in this poem is quite old, I would state it goes back to the 17th century, it does not contain a great deal of complicated words, but the old English utilized made it essential to translate the poem in a more modern language.

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Imagery is widely present. "two blood socialized be" is very clear link to exchanging bodily fluids, the equivalent of having sexual intercourse. Another clear link to the sexual side is "And indulge 'd swells with one blood made from 2" The flea symbolizes a different thing every verse. In the very first verse, the flea represent the 2 lovers joined together in the flea, "This flea, you and I" is a metaphor merely mentioning what the best part of the poem has to do with.

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The flea consists of both their blood, and in it, they are together.

Then in the 2nd stanza, the flea is not simply them being together, however it suggests the entire world to them. In the third and last stanza nevertheless the flea's sign is that of sin and unexpectedly gets benched to merely being a flea once again. "And cloister 'd in these living walls of jet" instantly cretes a picture of a little, dark location, most likely in this case being the inside of the flea. There is rather a lot of repeating in this poem, especially "Mark however this flea, and mark in this" produces a stressing impact and attempts to get the readers attention on the flea.

The structure is mostly consistent throughout the whole poem, except for the last 3 lines. The poem is a closed-form poem, and the rhyming pattern is AABBCCDDD. " This, is, thee, be" in the first stanza clearly shows this rhyming pattern is present in the poem. The effect of this rhythm is that makes it easier to remember this poem, as it in some way sounds like a song when the rhythm is followed.

The tone in this poem is one of deep intimacy and curiosity, especially in the first stanza; the tone is one of curiosity. He is jealous of the flea that already has mingled their "bloods". "And this, alas! Is more than we would do." Suggests that the lover finds it a pity that they did not have intercourse yet, but it doesn't bring him down so to speak. In the second stanza however, the tone changes from curiosity to pity for the flea and is more impassionate, as in the second flea it becomes clear that the woman wants to kill the flea because it has her blood already. The lover presents an argument and tries to seduce her into not killing the flea seeing that she would committing 3 sins as she would be killing "three sins in killing three" the flea, the lover, and herself. So it also carries some sadness with it.

In the third and last stanza the tone is set to a more playful mood again. Sinfulness in this poem is clearly present. To stress the flea's innocence, "Wherein could this flea guilty be?" It changes the image of the flea to that of just an insect again, that is not smart enough to realize what it has done. Overall, the tone is a lot like the process of sexual intercourse. It has the foreplay, and then it builds up to the climax and finally relaxes again. The first stanza represents the foreplay, a small thing such as the flea sucking the blood of both, with a sexual connotation "it suck'd me first, and now sucks thee" is a playful connotation of for example intimate kisses. Then it builds up in intensity as the man attempts to persuade her but fails at protecting the innocent flea's life; finally the woman kills it, which would be the climax. The final stanza is simply reflecting upon what just happened and the pace slows down again, the relaxation.

To conclude this essay, I believe this poem is about two people who deeply love each other and the lover tries to persuade the woman into losing her virginity to him. This poem is about the intimate relationship, love, and sex and religion. Religion as in the marriage bed and marriage temple and not having sex before "woo". It refers to human nature as all of us have the same desire and feelings in us. Most of us will find their true love at some point and experience the mingling of their blood. Not necessarily of course, but I believe that for most of us this is true.


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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An Analysis of "The Flea" by John Donne. (2017, Nov 15). Retrieved from

An Analysis of "The Flea" by John Donne essay
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