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ANTH 4220 Chapter Notes -Conceit, Metaphysical Poets, John Donne

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ANTH 4220
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The Flea by John Donne:
- Donne known for “metaphysical poetry”
- Metaphysical poetry typically employs unusual verse forms, complex figures of speech
applied to elaborate and surprising metaphorical conceits, and learned themes
discussed according to eccentric and unexpected chains of reasoning.
- born in 1572 to a London merchant and his wife
- was ordained in the Church of England in 1615.
- educated at Hart’s Hall, Oxford, and Lincoln’s Inn
The Flea....
- about a man trying to convince his lover to sleep with him
- the flea has drank both his blood, and his lover’s
- the flea, he says, has sucked first his blood, then her blood, so that now, inside the
flea, they are mingled
- The flea has joined them together in a way that, “alas, is more than we would
do” (meaning sex)
- the man’s lover wants to kill the flea, but he begs her not to, saying that to kill the flea
would be to kill the three lives inside it: his life, her life, and the flea’s
- the flea is their marriage bed and temple mixed into one: This flea is you and I, and
this / Our mariage bed and mariage temple is;!!!
- the lovers’ parents’ disapprove of their romance, and she will not make love to the
man, but he claims that they are united within the flea nevertheless
- the man calls his lover “cruel and sudden” when she kills the flea
- his lover replies that neither of them is less noble for having killed the flea
- the man says he agrees and that she would not lose honor either if is lover were to
sleep with him
Metaphor- a figure of speech that associates two distinct things without using a
connective word to link the vehicle and the tenor
EX. her eyes are the sun
• can be classified as direct or implied
• may also be classified as living, dead, or dormant
Trope- (figure of thought) one of the two major divisions of figures of speech
comes from a word that literally means “turning”
to trope is to turn or twist some word or phrase to make it mean something else
Conceit- a figure of speech involving elaborate and often surprising comparison b/w
two apparently highly dissimilar things, often in the form of an extended metaphor
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