Discuss the relevant trends in society reflected in "The Spider and the Fly" by Mary Howitt.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the poem stresses the idea that can be seen in social trends today.  Namely, that if individuals succumb to superficiality, bad things are not far behind.  The fly is ensnared because of the superficial praisings of the spider.  I cannot help thinking of internet predators that use similar ensarements to lure young children into challenging and dangerous situations.  No matter how many warnings are given to children, so many are victim to internet predators.  These individuals are able to gain a foothold and an entry point through similar words of flattery and superficial indulgence.  Few, if any, are able to successfully prey on children by stating, "I am a dangerous internet predator."  Rather, they use soothing words of encouragement to unsuspecting children, words that the children hang on with a sense of flattery and self worth being validated.  In the same way, the fly becomes victim to the spider because of the words of superficial praise, words that Howitt, herself, speaks to in the poem:

To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed: Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye.

I feel that this is a point where there is a relevant social trend in the poem, specifically in light of internet predatory habits and child engagement using social networking.