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The Flea Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas


Poems about the seduction of a chaste mistress were a staple of the English Renaissance. For example, “The Flea” would make an interesting comparison to Andrew Marvell’s famous “To His Coy Mistress…


The speaker of “The Flea” is like, “Let’s act like a married couple would act,” and he’s not talking about splitting the chores and fighting over the remote, either. He means he wants to do what a…

Guilt and Blame

Although he thinks she shouldn’t be so worried about the shame of sex, the speaker of “The Flea” lays one heck of a guilt trip on his would-be lover. He stops only a few steps short of, “This is my…

Respect and Reputation

“The Flea” takes place well before the sexual revolution, folks. As in several centuries before. In Donne’s day, sex before marriage was considered a serious sin. The woman’s parents probably want to…

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