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The Flea
The Flea
by John Donne

The Flea Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

Rhyming Couplets in Iambic MeterThis little poem is a marvel of form and rhythm. Donne makes the writing look so easy that you hardly notice everything going on beneath the surface.Let's start with...

Speaker

The speaker of "The Flea" is a smart aleck who will never admit to having lost an argument. You could catch him in some ridiculously absurd conclusion, and he would be like, "A-ha! But that just pr...

Setting

Like many works by the Metaphysical Poets, "The Flea" contains wild shifts in the imaginative setting of the poem (the images you think about as a reader), even as the literal setting stays in one...

Sound Check

The speaker in this poem reminds us of one of those little red devils that sits on your shoulder and tries to convince you to do something bad. Maybe you haven't had the little-red-devil experience...

What's Up With the Title?

"The Flea" – kind of sounds like an alternative British rock band, doesn't it? It's a simple title, and just a bit edgy. You certainly don't expect a love poem. Thus, the title plays against...

Calling Card

Sex in the Name of ReligionDonne wasn't afraid to use sexual themes, language, and imagery to make a spiritual point...or vice-versa. He seemed to think that the erotic life had an almost mystical...

Tough-O-Meter

(4) Base CampThe nice thing about John Donne is that he often picks a single idea and just runs with it. He beats it to death and then beats it some more. In this case, that single idea (or "metaph...

Brain Snacks

The Black Death (or Bubonic Plague), a disease that wiped out about a third of Europeans around 1350, was carried by the "oriental rat flea," a parasite of black rats. Its scientific name is Xenops...

Sex Rating

PG-13Donne beats around the proverbial bush quite a lot in "The Flea," but we know what he means with all this talk about the marriage bed and the mixing of "blood" (as in, bloodlines and bodily fl...

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