• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A Flea as a Marriage Bed

Extracts from this document...


"A Flea as a Marriage Bed" In the poem "The Flea", by John Donne, the speaker uses a peculiar analogy in order to persuade his beloved to engage in premarital intercourse with him. The poem is composed of three stanzas that tell a story in chronological order about a flea that has sucked the blood of the two subjects. It tells the reader how the speaker attempts to persuade his beloved not to kill the flea because it is their marriage bed and then tells of how the woman still kills the flea but how the speaker uses that to take his argument one step further and explain how since it is so easy and guilt-free to kill the flea, the same could be said of her going to bed with the him. The structure of this poem alternates metrically. It starts with lines in iambic tetrameter and then changes to lines in iambic pentameter and each stanza ends with two pentameter lines. The rhyme scheme in each stanza is in couplets, with the final line rhyming with the last couplet. Since this poem was written in the 1600's, the words and grammar reflect that time period. The author is still direct in the way he chooses to word each line and is not using metaphors to illustrate a point since the whole poem itself is an analogy of a flea representing a union between the speaker and his beloved. ...read more.


Here he is asking his beloved to spare the life of the flea because it represents their marriage bed or the place where their blood first mixed and they became intertwined on a different level even though she and her parents do not wish this to happen. The flea becomes a vessel in which they are united and have become more than simply married and if she kills the flea, she kills that union and special bond. He then writes, "Though use make you apt to kill me, Let not to that, self-murder added be, And sacrilege, three sins in killing three"(16-18). Here he is saying if she kills the flea, she will be killing him, herself, and their union and not just committing one sin, but three which is clearly far worse than simply killing a pesky flea. The third and final stanza dictates that the woman has indeed killed the flea, "Cruel and sudden, hast thou since Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence"(19-20) and he asks why she felt the flea was guilty enough to die, "Wherein could this flea guilty be, Except in that drop which it sucked from thee"(21-22). The author sees no reason for his beloved to have killed to innocent flea, but by killing the flea the woman has squashed his argument in hopes probably of shutting him up since he has no flea to compare their union to. ...read more.


The flea is a creature most people would not give a second thought to, but John Donne turns the unlikely species into a rather compelling argument to drive his point home. He did all of this without ever specifically referring to intercourse or sex which makes the poem even more clever and humorous. Even when his beloved kills the flea, when she essentially squashes and denies his argument, the author still continues with his analogy by referencing the fact that since she feels no pity or remorse for killing the flea, she will also feel no pity or remorse by engaging in premarital intercourse with him. It seems as though the author loses the first battle, but wins the war in the end, which always makes for an interesting story and tale. This poem is effective in laying out the author's argument for getting what he wants from his beloved. It is well organized into three brief stanzas that clearly indicate what is happening in each situation and how he explains his point. Although the author has a clear lack of respect for the wishes and feelings of the woman and her parents, he does make a compelling argument for himself on the simple analogy of a flea as their union and marriage bed. It is clever, witty, and unique in content, yet is written in a common, understandable metric language and basic, clear structure which makes for a pleasant, easy, and fun read. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Love Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Love Poetry essays

  1. "The Flea" by John Donne is

    "And tear our pleasures with rough strife." This idea is taken from hunting, where the hunter tears apart his pray with pleasure. He tries to conquer her fear, knowing that she wants to but at the same time does not want to lose her virginity before marriage.

  2. "The Flea", a witty poem of seduction and conceit, taken from John Donne's "Songs ...

    The argument throughout the poem is entirely different to "The Flea," it shows that "Song" is a poem of passion and heartfelt love. Bawdy, sexual connotations are absent, Donne does not feel lust. In verse one, Donne is reassuring his lover that his departure is simply a "practice" for their

  1. Love and Loss

    This is similar to "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" as the next six stanzas are told of the knight's love. In "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" the knight tells his tale to the man in the next six stanzas about how he met a girl "I met a lady in the meads" full beautiful- a fairy's child".

  2. 'Why would someone wait until marriage to have sex? What benefit is there? Why ...

    is a DESIRE. No one NEEDS sex. ����������������������������������������������������������������������� 'I would be proud to say I was a virgin. Especially to women. Females are more reluctant to have sex with a guy who she knows has slept around than a guy to a girl who has ...

  1. Outline the structure of the Rite of Marriage or Holy Orders, commenting on the ...

    Also to be emphasized are: the consent of the contracting parties, which the priest asks and receives; the special nuptial blessing on the bride, by which the priest implores God's blessing on the wedding covenant; and, finally, the reception of holy communion by the groom and the bride and by

  2. "The Flea" - What it's about.

    The male persona uses one argument then twists it so that it fits into why she has killed the flea. The poem is very direct as the male persona tells his lover exactly what he wants and when; "Thou know'st that this cannot be said..."

  1. Poems - 'The flea', 'Let me not' , and 'My last duchess'

    It also become related to their marriage bed or temple in which they were wed, as the poet says "Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is". Here, Donne uses the mixing of body fluids to extend it beyond sexual intercourse, but says the flea's body is where they were symbolically married.

  2. Was Janie truly happy at the end of the novel as she killed Tea ...

    This was one of the first epiphanies Janie has in the novel, it helps her to develop more as a character as she realises not everyone is the same or treated equally. As the Washburn children were happily settled Janie no longer was.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work