John Donne: Poems

John Donne’s Conception of Love in ‘The Flea’ and ‘To His Mistress Going To Bed’ College

In order to truly grasp how John Donne (1572 - 1631) regards and treats the concept of love in his poems, one must be well aware of the fact that his love poems never refer to one single unchanging view of love. Instead, in Donne’s love poems, not only can one find a wide variety of emotions presented, but there are also his contrasting attitudes towards love. Among Donne’s many different love experiences, however, both ‘The Flea’ and ‘To His Mistress Going To Bed’ can be viewed as Donne’s attempts to glorify the physical nature of love, most guiltlessly and shamelessly, to reject and challenge the Petrarchan traditional idea of courtly love, and to equate physical love to the spiritual love by transforming its mere physicality into a celebration of holy union between souls and God.

Both ‘The Flea’ and ‘To His Mistress Going To Bed’ are dedicated to Donne’s glorifying of the physical nature of love. ‘The Flea’ is all about seduction and persuasion, and love-making is depicted as both natural, innocuous and even heretical. In ‘The Flea’, the speaker of the poem endeavours to invalid the young lady’s moral concerns and to convince her to surrender her virginity to him by taking the advantage of a flea. In the first stanza, the...

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