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A Comparison of how "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Flea" Present and Develop the Poets' Arguments

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A Comparison of how "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Flea" Present and Develop the Poets' Arguments The poems "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell and "The Flea" by John Donne are both written with the same idea in mind, for the authors to get their 'women' or mistresses to be less shy with them. This was a common idea of which poems were based in Marvell's and Donne's time due to when a pretty woman was to find herself interacting with a man, it was conventional for her to be shy or unwilling, or at least for a small time at first. With this in mind it is easy to see that both poems include the idea of "carpe diem", this means "seize the day", in other words make use of the time we have and do not let it go to waste. This was common in the poems written by the metaphysical poets, which both Donne and Marvell were included in. The most obvious comparison of arguments is what the persona is trying to get from his mistress, it is clear that all that the persona has on his mind in "The Flea" is sexual intercourse, yet in "To His Coy Mistress" the persona is more interested in love in general not just sex. ...read more.


However in "The Flea" the mistress's actions are described, she still isn't given a voice so you will never find out exactly what she thinks but you can tell by her actions what she thinks of the persona's argument. In the 17th century the idea of mingled blood means marriage, such as Donne said: Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare, Where we almost, yea are more married are. Although the mistress is passive you can tell she obviously doesn't like this thought, so when she kills the flea it isn't just against religion but it shows that the thought of being married to the persona is a preposterous idea. This is fascinating because the persona accuses his mistress of committing suicide by killing the flea: Though use make you apt to kill me, Let not to that, self murder added be, And sacrilege, three sins in killing three. The thought behind this idea is that the flea contains a part of three people, the persona, his mistress and the flea itself. So killing it would be killing a part of all three of them and probably in the persona's eyes it is killing his chance of ever having a sexual union with his mistress. Donne used a flea to describe this because fleas were very common in the 17th century. ...read more.


years should go to praise Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze, Two hundred to adore each breast, But thirty thousand to the rest; The persona is suggesting that if they had all eternity he could spend over thirty thousand years showing affection towards her. This is a very powerful thing to say and shows a huge amount of affection for his mistress. It is ironic that after the first stanza being so flattering that the second stanza is filled with the idea of death. "Deserts of vast eternity" is a powerful images which combines space and time which suggests that there is nothing once they have died, a large open "nothingness". The next two lines, "Thy beauty shall no more be found, / Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound", is an interesting choice of words. Again, it is a use of flattery calling the mistress beauty but it suggests that her beauty will go to waste in her tomb. The persona continues then to go on and that worms will try her "long preserved virginity". This is very similar to the flea, they are both very unromantic beings, which is likely to be the main part behind the poets' arguments. The worm is also a metaphysical conceit because the it isn't romantic yet it is suggested to do something which is considered to be the climax of romance. ...read more.

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