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The Flea- John Donne

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by

Emily Tucci

on 2 December 2012

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Transcript of The Flea- John Donne

Main Idea:
The love-interest kills the flea. The narrator uses this to his benefit by saying that if she can kill this flea without any thought, than she should ought to be able to sleep with him without too much thought. Ultimately, the narrator does not believe that his love-interest's purity should get in the way of their sexual relationship. However, I do not believe that the narrator and his love-interest develop a sexual relationship in the end. Firstly, the woman's action of killing the flea displays her disregard for the narrator's argument. Secondly, the "we" pronoun used in the first stanza became "me" and "thee" yet again at the end of the third paragraph, thus separating the narrator and his love-interest again. The woman chooses her purity over the man, thus proving that purity is not something to be taken lightly and plays a significant role in many people's lives. Final Analysis
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;
'Tis true; then learn how false fears be:
Just so much honor, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee. Stanza 3 Main Idea:
The narrator is telling his love-interest to not kill the flea because there are bits of himself and his love-interest inside the flea.
Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three. Stanza 2 Main Idea:
A flea sucks the blood of both the narrator and his love-interest, therefore uniting them in a unifying manner. The narrator uses this as the basis of his argument as to why his love-interest should sleep with him. Stanza 1 Poem Controlling Idea:
What is Purity? How should one view Purity? The Flea- John Donne Diction:
Opposite Diction
"Innocence" Line 20/ "Guilty" Line 21", "Triumph'st" Line 23/ "Weaker" Line 24, "True" Line 25/ "False" Line 25, "Honor" Line 26/ "Waste" Line 27
This contrasting diction is intended to confuse the love-interest, making her unsure if sleeping with the narrator is a good or bad moral decision in regard to her purity. Diction:
Religious diction:
"Three lives in one" Line 10 (refers to the Trinity), "Cloistered" Line 15, "Self-Murder" Line 17 (refers to suicide), "Sacrilege" Line 18, "sins" Line 18
This religious diction can be viewed as a way of the narrator is mocking his love-interest's purity. He manipulates religious words to back up his own argument as to why the woman should sleep with him and not kill the flea, therefore destroying their figurative sexual union.
"Together" diction:
"Cloistered" Line 15, "W'are met" Line 14, "Three lives in one" Line 10.
While also referencing religious aspects, this diction also can be viewed as "unifying" diction, which represents the sexual union the narrator is attempting to create, therefore altering his love-interest's purity. Rhyme Scheme:
aabbccddd
This rhyme scheme keeps the idea and narrator's dialogue charging forward, therefore making his point and argument heard. Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;
'Tis true; then learn how false fears be:
Just so much honor, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee. Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do. Diction:
Progression of pronouns:
Begins with "me" and "thee" in lines 2-3, and ends with "we" in line 9. This is part of the narrator's argument. What starts as two separate people is unified and becomes one person, which is what would happen if his love-interest slept with him. He is stating it is a unifying process, not an unholy and wrong action. Syntax:
The lack of punctuation except for the end of each line keeps the narrator's argument going, therefore giving the love-interest less time to think too hard about what her argument against the narrator would be. The narrator is trying his hardest to get his way. Syntax:
Syntax changes from calm and natural to agitated, because the narrator feels as if he is loosing his argument, as the love-interest goes to kill the flea, and thus his chance of sleeping with her. Irony:
In line 14 when referencing "marriage bed" and "marriage temple" the narrator appears to be highly regarding his love-interest's desire for purity. Yet in line 18, the narrator adds guilt by saying she will be killing herself, and him if she kills the flea, thus killing their sexual union. This is not showing respect for her want of purity. Syntax:
Syntax starts off agitated due to the fact the narrator's love-interest killed the flea. However, the narrator uses this to his advantage as mentioned in the main idea, so the syntax becomes more calm and collected as he makes his final argument.
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