We were assigned John Donne’s The Flea to read in English class, and I remembered in high school how we had to act out a metaphysical poem by Donne (the group that did To His Mistress Going to Bed was HILARIOUS). My group decided on The Flea and I ended up writing the following script. It’s got the gist of the poem, and thought it would be fun to share.
The script will read a little like the speaker of the poem (the Boy) is delusional, and that’s what makes me think the poem is not sincere, but more of a satire, much like Donne’s To His Mistress Going to Bed. In both poems, Donne could be satirizing the lengths that a man would ridicule himself to get into his love interest’s pants (or skirts, given the time period). Whether he’s commenting on the crudeness of men’s desire or the stinginess of women is another story.
Boy and Girl walk into room, arguing loudly. There is a flyswatter on the table. A flea sits patiently in the room.
Boy: Why not?
Boy: Just hear me out—
Girl: No way!
Boy: Come on!
Both stop walking and they face each other.
Girl: “Come on”? Seriously?
Boy gives her a look. Girl slaps him.
Boy: What did you do that for?
Girl: We’re not even married!
Boy: So? Hey!
Flea bites Boy.
Girl: What is it?
Boy: A flea.
Flea bites Girl, then it lands on the table.
Girl: Ugh, that’s disgusting—Where’s the flyswatter?
Girl reaches for the flyswatter. Boy stops her.
Boy: No! Don’t!
Girl: And why not?
Boy: Don’t you see? Both of our blood is in this flea. That’s better than marriage—it’s a blood pact.
Girl: It’s a what?
Boy: Both of our blood is in this flea. It mixes our blood. It’s like getting married.
Girl: That’s just too weird.
Boy: But now we’re married! It’s okay now!
Girl: No we’re not! That’s it, I’m killing this thing.
Girl picks up flyswatter, and starts to kill flea, but Boy stops her.
Boy: No! Stop!
Boy: It’s got my blood, your blood, its blood—you’re going to kill the three of us!
Boy: Just don’t kill it!
Girl: No, I’m going to—it’s making you talk crazy. How is this…thing marriage? You’ve officially gone insane.
Girl kills flea.
Boy: What did you do? The flea did nothing wrong! It was innocent! We were married! It was okay!
Girl: No! The flea doesn’t mean anything!
Boy: You just killed all three of us!
Girl: No! I didn’t die, you didn’t die—the flea doesn’t mean anything!
Short pause. Light bulb appears over boy’s head. They start walking away.
Boy: That’s right! The flea doesn’t mean anything, so you killing the flea is the same thing as—
Boy: And you just said it doesn’t mean anything.
Girl: That’s not what I meant at all! You never pay attention to what I’m saying…
“I am two fools, I know, for loving, and for saying so in whining poetry.” – John Donne