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The Flea

The Flea

by John Donne

The Flea Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Does Donne's argument about the harmlessness of his seduction pass muster? What are the steps in this argument and where, if ever, does it break down?
  2. If the flea could respond to the speaker, what would it say? Would it be on the speaker's side? Would it brag about its conquest? Would it defend the lady's honor? As an exercise, try writing "The Flea's Side of the Story."
  3. What does the woman have to gain, or lose, if she gives in to the speaker? What do you think their previous relationship has been like?
  4. The poem ends before the woman can give a final response. How do you think she'd respond to the speaker's final argument?
  5. How do you feel about the flea by the end of the poem? Does Donne succeed in humanizing it? Would you still kill the next flea that lands on you?
  6. What is the boldest pickup approach you have ever heard? Did it work?

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