Character sketch of the Fly in “The Spider and the Fly”?

QuestionsCharacter sketch of the Fly in “The Spider and the Fly”?
Nauren Asif asked 6 years ago

What is the character sketch of the fly in Mary Howitt’s poem “The Spider and the Fly“?

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1 Answers
Staff answered 5 years ago

In Mary Howitt’s poem “The Spider and the Fly“, both the Spider and the Fly are personified, i.e., attributed human qualities and capital letters are used for their names throughout the poem. As for a character sketch, we get a glimpse of the Fly not only from the words that she speaks but also from what the Spider says about her and from the speaker’s narratives.

The Fly has shown resistance to the Spider’s invitation and temptation from the very beginning. When the cunning wily Spider calls her to enter his parlour to see the “many pretty things” he has in his store, or shows his concern for her saying “I’m sure you must be weary” and offers her some rest upon his little cozy bed, or even when the Spider expresses his “warm affection” for her and offers her “a slice” from the good store of his pantry, the fly shows her good sense guided by her instinct and repeatedly says “No”.

“O no, no, … to ask me is in vain,”

“O no, no, … kind Sir, that cannot be;”

But everyone has one’s limits. The Fly failed to hold on when the Spider employed his best trick — flattery. He appreciated the Fly’s wit and wisdom calling her “sweet creature”. He also praised her handsome “gauzy wings” and brilliant eyes. The Fly this time got carried away in the thought of her “pearl and silver wings”, “green and purple hue” and her “crested head”. Falling prey to the Spider’s flattery, his false praises, is the utter foolishness the Fly showed on her part. And that brought about her fall.

Some may argue though that this was innocence of the Fly that she did not suspect the Spider any more after his repeated invitations and praises, it was definitely her foolishness that she neglected her own instinct and got carried away by the Spider’s flattery. The speaker therefore advises in the very last stanza of the poem never to pay heed to an evil counsellor. The Fly could easily avoid the danger by getting away from the place when she first sensed something fishy with the Spider’s intention. But she did not do that and was rather lost in thought of her own beauty. Her vanity let her down. This is why the speaker calls her the “poor foolish thing”.

Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing!

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