The Complete Poetry of John Donne.
The Life of John Donne (1572-1631)
One of the most famous of Donne’s metaphysical conceits that these women, among other readers, would be need to understand appears in the poem “The Flea,” in which a flea functions as the premise of the argument that the narrator makes while trying to convince the addressed female to go to bed with him; this is also one of Donne’s more famous seduction poems Although this poem may seem misogynistic since it is a dramatic monologue in which the lady is given no voice and the narrator seems concerned with nothing more than sexual satisfaction, a closer reading of this poem also yields readers with the possibility that through the monologue, Donne is actually flattering women.
SparkNotes: Donne’s Poetry: “The Flea”
These attacks of misogyny are not always merited, however. Even in poems in which the female voice is absent—especially in some of the seduction poems, in particular “The Flea” and “Elegy XIX”—it is obvious that Donne thought women honorable and intelligent. He must believe them honorable since the narrator is forced to use a grand amount of convincing to get the addressed woman to even consider granting his requests; he must consider them intelligent primarily because they play along with and rebuke the male narrator, thus implying they are smart enough to understand the complex wit of the arguments made by the narrator.
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Donne later summed up the experience: "John Donne, Anne Donne, Undone." Anne's cousin offered the couple refuge in Pyrford, Surrey, and the couple was helped by friends like Lady Magdalen Herbert, 's mother, and , women who also played a prominent role in Donne's literary life.