The Flea

By John Donne

236 ratings - 3.61* vote

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Book details

, 75 pages
July 1977 by Circle Press
Original Title
The Flea
0901380318 (ISBN13: 9780901380319)

Community Reviews

Marzieh Torabi

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.


Before reading this poem, it is important to realize who the author is and his style of writing in order to better understand the poem. The authors name is John Donne. He is well known for being a metaphysical poet. Some examples of metaphysical poems can be on subjects like religion, god, consciousness, reality and perception.

In the beginning of the poem, the speaker is talking to a woman about a flea. It was a random flea, but once the flea sucked blood from the speaker and the woman, he used that as a persuasive technique to try and have sex with her. “where we almost, yea more than married are. This flea is you and I, and this our marriage bed, and marriage temple is”. This quote from the poem demonstrates how he is using an insignificant creature and making it into a symbolic gesture of their union in order to persuade her to have sex. I believe that one possible purpose of this poem is to convince the reader that sex before marriage can be insignificant as the flea. In the poem, the author tried to convince the girl that the flea had a marriage like significance because of the blood shared between the two of them. If the girl would have believed and had sex with him, that would be considered an act of premature sex; which is a sin and biblically forbidden back then. She would have been fooled by the lame excuse, which means that several other people might believe that as well and would have put marriage and religion into doubt.

John Donnes purpose almost seems as if hes trying to make the flea and marriage relevant to each other in a way that ties them together. He pushes the idea that the sharing of the blood signifies a union. But it all depends on how you think of it. It can either be significant or insignificant at the same time. For example, if you think the flea is insignificant than you also think that marriage is insignificant as well. This was his argument to convince the girl to sleep with him. He was ultimately trying to convince the girl and audience that they are one in the same to further his purpose of having sex with the girl. So if you think its significant (blood union in the flea) then you think that marriage is significant. If I stand in John donnes shoes, then I would have convinced the girl by telling her this, “ Why do you believe in marriage but you don’t believe in our union within the flea, is it not the same thing? “ The way that he descrives the union in the flea is very common with the idea of union and marriage which is why he used it to add fuel to his scheme. In other words the excuse he made up is strong enough to doubt religion if the girl would have accepted to have sex with him.


My first Introduction to Metaphysical poet..
It was hilarious
Even though it's not funny
Coz the topic
It's pretty serious topic
But you can't imagine someone write this or think this way from a Flea..
I will say must read..

Hilda Aguilar

As soon as a read the title “The Flea” I literally thought it was going to compare the narrator as his life being a flea. Maybe like the story “The Metamorphosis” where the narrator wakes up as a cockroach but that wasn't it. As I was reading the poem, it became more interesting to me like is he really talking about wanting to making love? At the end I was like “wow” it is crazy how a flea can have such a huge meaning to the narrator. The tone of the poem is a little dramatic and ridiculously amusing.

In the short poem “The Flea”, the narrator talks about how a flea sucked his blood first and then his loved one. Now inside the flea are his blood and his loved one’s blood mingled. He enjoys it very much and does not think it is “a sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead.” But when his loved one wants to kill it he tells her that she would be committing three sins for three lives she would be killing-his life, her life, and the flea’s life.” Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare… And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.” He describes that his lives are in the living walls of the flea “w’are met, And cloistered in these living walls of jet.” At the end of the poem the lover ends up killing the flea anyways. “Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me, will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.”

The narrator is describing his love desire and loves the idea that their blood is mingled into this flea. He doesn't want the flea to get killed; I think he is trying to say that’s the closest they can get to being intimate. In his eyes they are considered one flesh now. He wants to make love to her and wants her to give herself to him. He is trying to convince her to have premarital sex. Since the flea has their blood mingled, the flea has done something she doesn't want to do. “Where we almost, nay more than married are. This flea is you and I, and this, our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;”

It is quite interesting how the narrator used the flea in this poem. Yet it is also strange because we think of a flea to be something gross and irritating. Overall, I would recommend this poem because I believe it is rich and it can also be seen by other readers as a humorous narrative. The poet uses the flea as a metaphor to describe his love desire.

Maria Garcia

In this poem "The Flea" by John Donne I liked this poem because men have been sweet talkers just to get a woman in bed even from back in time. In this poem I believe it is about a man who wants to seduce a woman. He uses a flea as an example of their love together. She is worried about losing her virginity and being shamed and thinking that it is a sin but the clever man says that the flea has sucked his blood and now hers and their bloods are mixed together and they are one and nothing is wrong with that. And when the woman wants to kill the flea he says not to because it will kill their love as the flea presents them as one now. She does not really care and kills the flea anyways and says that they are perfectly fine that nothing happened because the flea is dead. And that's when he mentions like you see if we have sex nothing will happen nor will it be a sin, or shameful it is natural like the way the flea sucking your blood. This is how I interpreted this poem.


I have to applaud Donne's...different perspective. The actual flea is really just an extended metaphor, symbolic of the blood union between the speaker and the woman he's lusting after.

I admit it's good, but it was kind of weird and uncomfortable to read. I guess you could say that I'm so 'Donne' with his poetry. Hah. (hopefully my literature teacher doesn't ever see this oops)

John Yelverton

Well, this poem was a special kind of special. It waxes philosophical on being united in marriage in the same language as being united with a flea once it has bitten you. Then goes on to express how the flea is a murderer. Now, try getting those images out of your head.

Jaylene Alarcon

a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do... love this poem!!


A playful poem in which the author claims a flea has already bitten both himself and a certain young lady, so they may as well have sex since their blood is already mingled in the belly of the flea.Say it with me: yikes.

Pearl Pena

After reading the poem "The Flea" by John Donne, we can see the different perspectives men and women have on the issue of premarital sex. The authors metaphor comparing sex between a man and a woman to it being the same as getting bit by a flea is surprising. Yet it reveals how a woman’s morals can prevail over such peculiar attempts to just coax sex. Women should know that they hold the power when it comes to sex and that no amount of persuasion should make you disregard ones morals.

The narrator uses a simple flea to try to prove his argumentative point. The title used is perfect because this narrator is grasped by an absurd idea that the flea being used is a metaphor of their marriage or "love". He tries seducing a woman to get in bed with him based on the action of the flea and that sex is harmless. The theme this poem explores is sex and guilt. I personally disliked the poem for the simple fact that this man uses such a small insignificant insect such as a flea to try to get this woman to make love to him. He doesn’t even bother with trying to prove his love to her or show this female any kind of respect by respecting her wishes. I personally don’t see how an insect such as a flea or should I say especially a flea would have anything to do with his strategy on trying to get this woman to sleep with him. Did he really think this would work?

The poem is in a form of a conversation being carried on but with only one speaker. The man who is the speaker in the poem is generating a justification on the two sides on why the woman should sleep with him. "How little that which thou deniest me is" (line 2) He states that she is denying him sex but it is nothing big. Although the other someone never replies, it is only evident that she does not agree by the series of events that are being shared by the speaker. It is apparent that the narrators endeavor to lure a woman has been a failure. It is not clear as to why this woman does not wish to have sex with this man but from the statement in the reading, it may be due to their love grudged upon their parents. The narrator is using a metaphor as unity from the flea that carries both their blood from the bite the flea did to both of them. One can tell from the shift in tone that the narrator goes from passionate to argumentative. He is making it seem that there is no difference in the flea carrying both their blood than that of which takes place at the point of intimacy. As per lines (4,5,6) "And in this flea our two bloods mingled be; Thou know’st that this cannot be said, A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead", he is using an argumentative statement that mingling cannot be labeled as a sin, or shame, or loss of virginity. He mentions marriage from which a husband and wife are considered to become one, and feels this has already occurred by both their bloods being mixed. He believes that it makes up for them being a whole and having sex would not make much of a difference.

The narrators maneuver of blandishments are not too proficient if I must say so. As a woman I can honestly add that I would not dare to give myself to this man. His way of trying to seduce this woman is not convincing whatsoever but rather tricky. The woman feels that by having sex with this man she would be dishonoring not only her parents but her moral beliefs as well. Therefore, she wants to kill the flea at once and make it all come to an end. The lover thinks that by killing this flea she is not only committing a sin upon killing the flea itself but by killing all three of them. Upon killing the flea, the narrator flips it by stating that just the way it was as easy and simple to kill the flea and commit such a sin, that she would lose no more by sleeping with him. The key to this poem is the flea which the man uses to symbolize their love. Ultimately by killing this flea it's like she has killed the concept which represents their love. I enjoyed the ending because he fails at his attempt and proves that the woman is the one who holds the power by continuing to reject this man’s lust. Therefore the female is the one in control until she is ready and decides when is the right time.