The thesis that needs to be proven: The speaker in John Donne’s poem “The Flea”

The thesis that needs to be proven: The speaker in John Donne’s poem “The Flea” mixes flirtation and crude humor to seduce a woman, while simultaneously rejecting the 17th century’s religious and conservative views on sex through the use of diction and metaphysical language. *THIS THESIS IS NOT SET IN STONE; IT CAN BE REWORDED OR CHANGED*
introductory paragraph:
– engaging hook
– transition sentences
– thesis: The speaker in John Donne’s poem “The Flea” mixes flirtation and crude humor to seduce a woman, while simultaneously rejecting the 17th century’s religious and conservative views on sex through the use of diction and metaphysical language.
paragraph 1: DICTION
– the diction is perverse and crude; elicits the physical nature of sex AND demonstrates how witty the speaker is
– it is a battle of wits between the man and the woman
– very much not a love poem; no extravagant flowery language, much the opposite
diction to use:
1. “enjoys” (Donne, line 7)
2. “swells with” (Donne, line 8)
3. “sucked” (Donne, line 22)
– each diction should have a separate analysis
– the analysis includes what the quote means in the context of the text AND how it is relevant to the thesis
paragraph 2: METAPHYSICAL LANGUAGE
– metaphysical means pushing a metaphor to its highest degree, so the speaker uses the metaphor of a flea and pushes it so outrageously far to make the argument for the women to sleep with him
– at the same time, he makes fun of the sacred and religious views of sex and virginity in that time period
quotations on metaphysical language to use:
1. “Thou know’st that this cannot be said/ A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead” (Donne, lines 5-6)
2. “This flea is you and I, and this/ Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is” (Donne, lines 12-13)
3. “Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,/ Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee” (Donne, lines 26-27)
– each quotation should have a separate analysis
– the analysis includes what the quote means in the context of the text AND how it is relevant to the thesis
conclusion
– rewriting the thesis
– transition sentences
– a general statement that is impactful and is related to the topic
ADDITIONAL THINGS FOR THE ANALYSIS PORTION OF THE ESSAY
– mention that Donne was a promiscuous man himself (the biographical context of the poem – how it relates to Donne as a person) ALSO distinctly separate Donne from the speaker of the poem
– The Flea was written not for publication, but for Donne’s circle of friends (and maybe that’s why he wasn’t afraid to use such crude language and metaphors)
– it was published in the late Victorian era when society was extremely rigid in its views around sex and virginity – which makes Donne seem even more perverse when the speaker of his poem infers that virginity is of little importance to the woman
This link has the full poem with the modern English translation & brief analysis:
https://www.litcharts.com/poetry/john-donne/the-flea

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