ISC Class 12 Literature -The Spider and the Fly – Explanation

The Spider and the Fly

Explanation ..

The Spider’s skullduggery and the Fly’s naivety

The invitation and the hesitation….

The spider tries to lure the fly to its web. The intention is obvious. It wants to make a meal out of the fly.
With very friendly, soft words, it invites the fly to walk along a winding staircase to reach its parlour, that has many exciting things that the latter could enjoy looking at.
The fly knows the perils of a spider’s web. It knows how fatal the attraction could be. So, it spurns the invite.
The spider is a master in chicanery. It skirts the issue of the terrible reputation of its web. Instead, it speaks glowingly about its cozy bed, and the beautiful curtains hung from the windows. Showing some artificial sympathy, it assures that the trouble of walking up the stair is worth it, because royal comfort awaits the guest in the bed room. ‘Sleeping with it will be a great experience,’ assures the spider to the fly.
The fly remains unmoved. Those who have shared the bed with the spider have succumbed to the companionship. The fly knows this very well. So, it again turns down the enticing welcome.
The spider doesn’t give up. She swears that a visit to its ‘parlour’ would be very enjoyable experience. It says that there is delicious food too in the kitchen that the fly could savour.
The fly scoffs at the spider’s suggestion, saying that it is well aware of the hazards that lie in the ‘pantry’. It doesn’t want to venture into the spider’s web.

The time-tested tool— flattering a female’s looks ...

The spider is at its charming best. It decides to talk its way to the fly’s heart through flattery and praise. The spider speaks eloquently about the fly’s thin translucent wings and its sparkling eyes. If the fly comes in, it can feast its eyes in its own beauty using the spider’s mirror.
The flattery seemed to have its desired effect. The fly is excited about seeing itself in the spider’s mirror. Thanking the spider for the kind words, it flies ff saying that it will return in a few days time.

The fly caves in ...

The spider realizes its deceit has worked. It had worked successfully on the weakness of the fly. Convinced that the stupid fly would surely come, it returns to its chamber where it weaves a small web. The ‘dining table’ is ready. There, it waits silently for the prey to fly in. The spider is in high spirits. It keeps humming a song in praise of the beautiful head and wings of the fly.

The end game …

Not long after, the fly comes flying in. It had been swayed by the spider’s guile. The fly was lost in the thoughts of seeing its bewitching beauty, its coloured wings, and its spherical head. Little did it know what danger lay ahead.
With ferocity and utmost glee, the spider jumped onto the fly, subdued it easily, and dragged it to its den. In no time, the spider devoured the fly.
Conclusion .. In this world, one must be always on guard to keep away from crooked and harmful people. One must learn to see through wicked flattery, and never fall prey to the cunning sweet words.


Q1. What is the theme of the poem?

Answer .. Human beings are born with some weaknesses of mind. Weakness to flattery is one of them. Even very Erudite and sagacious people make fatal mistakes in their judgments due to this weakness. As a result, they come to grief and realize how they have been tricked, but by then, the damage would have been done. Sages and saints in all ages and all lands, have cautioned their followers to be wary of flatterers.

The higher the position of a person in society, the more is the danger of them falling to flattery. Confucius, the most revered philosopher of China, had told his people to reward those who criticized them on their face, and rebuke those who praised them. The dangers of deceitful men winning their way to other’s hearts through sweet words have long been known, yet people fall for them losing their wealth, honor, and peace.

The Spider was an ace flatterer. The Fly was naïve and gullible. The Spider charmed the Fly with its welcoming and warm words, The Fly finally fell to the Spider’s trickery and ended up in the latter’s stomach.
The tragedy holds very valuable lessons for all of us. Courtiers, lovers, favour-seekers, conmen, etc. lavish praise on their prey with great finesse, and then achieve their wicked objectives. The poem illustrates the dangers of lowering one’s guards against un-deserved praise, and un-solicited goodwill. No doubt, the poem teaches us very valuable lessons of life. One must be wary of people who show unexplained warmth, and shower effusive praise.

The Spider and the Fly may be very insignificant creatures of this world, but their story has immense didactic value. England paid a terrible price because Chamberlin, instead of confronting Hitler, tried to placate him by soft words and actions. The demise of so many monarchies the world over happened, because of the wicked-minded courtiers who flattered the monarchs day in and day out. So, let’s never forget the lessons of this didactic short story of the Spider and the Fly.


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