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Seduction Techniques Illustrated In Donne's The Flea And Marvell's To His Coy Mistress

906 words - 4 pages

Men of the 16th and 17th century were the largest contributors of literature of that time. This led to misogynistic views, and subhuman treatment of women. Although it was socially forbidden for a woman to have sex outside of marriage, this did not stop men from trying to convince her. John Donne, a poet of the 16th century, wrote misogynistic pieces in his early works. Andrew Marvell, a contemporary of Donne, who also wrote seduction poems. Donne’s “The Flea” and Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” both have seduction techniques, yet the degree of success is different. The degree of success each seducer has can be judged by looking at the rhetoric, imagery and emotional appeals in “The Flea” and “To His Coy Mistress.”
The seducer of “The Flea” makes use of different arguments to convince the woman to have sex. One argument is that the blood of both him and his lover has mingled inside a flea, because it has bit them both. He tells her that nothing has befallen her that there is not “A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead” (The Flea, 6). The Flea has both lovers’ blood in it, and they have not committed a sin for the punishment of their blood mixing. The seducer connects this to sex and explains that there will not be any punishment for having intercourse, either. This is not successful because he must use other ways to convince her. The seducer also uses imagery. He calls the flea, with his and her blood inside of it, a holy trinity. He explains it would be suicidal to kill the flea, and that it would be “sacrilege, three sins in killing three” (The Flea, 18). The seducer shows his lover that they all form a trinity, and it should not be broken. The image of the holy trinity to the lover would have been a strong point, but the extent of the success is lesser than the first argument. He is almost willing her to kill the flea, and she does. He then uses emotional appeal to try to persuade her. He seems outraged that she killed the flea. He says again there have been no repercussive measures, that by killing an innocent flea, she has gotten away with murder. Since there was no punishment for murder, he says “Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,/ Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee” (The Flea, 26-27). The seducer is convinced that killing the flea was worse than having sex; therefore no punishment could befall them, just like when she killed to flea. He appeals to her, that nothing could go wrong after they have sex. The extent of his success seems diminutive when compared to...

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