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"The Flea" was written in the 17th century and "Valentine" in the 20th century. What similarities and differences do you find in their treatment of the subject of love?

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Introduction

"The Flea" was written in the 17th century and "Valentine" in the 20th century. What similarities and differences do you find in their treatment of the subject of love? "The flea" is a metaphysical poem about a man trying to argue a virgin into bed to have sexual intercourse with him. This poem was most likely written to amuse the readers and probably more for a larger male audience. The poem was written in the late 17th century in a period where sex within marriage was like a household chore, but socially, sex before marriage was like a sin, because society was extremely religious. John Donne is attempting to get these thoughts out of her head and persuade her to have sex with him. Metaphysical poets use a lot of elaborate and extended comparisons. They wrote energetic and vigorous poems that went against the common literature of the time. There are three stanzas in the poem; all 9 lines each, making it a regular stanza and rhyming form. Each stanza consists of three rhyming couplets and one rhyming triplet. The first stanza is strong and persuasive and is the introduction to the poem. In this stanza he makes the girl look at the flea. ...read more.

Middle

and their unity together, and that there is no shame in having sexual intercourse, but when she kills the flea there is nothing bad that has happened to him or her. "Yet thou thriumph'st, and say'st that thou Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now" He agrees with her and uses what she said to twist her words and say that it was only a flea and nothing bad happened, as it would only be sex, and nothing bad would happen there either. John Donne eventually wins the argument. "Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me, Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee." John and the girl did not lose any life when the flea was killed and won't lost any life if she has sex with him, so it could not be too bad a thing to do. During the poem, when Donne was losing his argument, he kept coming back to the flea and the use of religious imagery to persuade the girl. This could be similar to the poem "Valentine" as Carol Ann Duffy uses the onion in a magnificent way to convey her love. In "Valentine" the stanza form is completely different to "The flea". ...read more.

Conclusion

I enjoyed reading both the poems, but the one I enjoyed most was "The flea". I found it a clever way to persuade people to do things and it interested me and may have made the girl change her mind, whereas to me, the onion as a present seemed absurd and had been rejected many times. I don't feel it was a very good way to go about telling someone of the love that you hold for them. The part of "The Flea" which I enjoyed the most is where he used religious imagery to seduce the girl. If he hadn't had used that then I don't think that his plan would've worked. Also, the quick way in which he changed his view on the argument after the girl killed the flea was very sharp in my opinion and sly and cunning. I think that Carol Ann Duffy's poem was all about showing your love in very definitive ways and not just with cards and chocolate, but with something that actually means something. I think that it would appeal more to the female of the species, and the flea would appeal more to the male of the species. Metaphysical poetry appeals to me, and so does John Donne and I would expect that many of his poems were similar to this. ...read more.

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