What is the conceit in "Upon a Spider Catching a Fly"?

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A literary conceit compares two unlike things that a person might not normally put together. In this poem, Edward Taylor creates a conceit not so much when he compares a spider to Satan but more so when he compares a person of strong Christian faith to a wasp.

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A literary conceit compares two unlike things that a person might not normally put together. In this poem, Edward Taylor creates a conceit not so much when he compares a spider to Satan but more so when he compares a person of strong Christian faith to a wasp.

This is startling because a wasp is not a gentle, kindly, merciful creature like a lamb—the kind of animal that we might equate to Christianity. A wasp stings and is a harsh, threatening insect.

Taylor is saying that Christian must be stingingly harsh with Satan, as the wasp is, to survive his devilish attacks. When confronted with evil, this is not the time be nice or like the fly—you will find your head bitten off. This kind of comparison startles us and causes us to think.

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