Friday, January 31, 2020
Blake is the enemy of all authority(TM) Essay Example for Free
Blake is the enemy of all authority(TM) Essay Blakes poetry often serves to propagate his anti-authoritarian views and loathing of institutional power. Furthermore, his views often impress upon the reader his belief in the human right for both spiritual and social freedom, unconstrained by established convention. Blakes treatment of the institution of the church and religion is often contemptuous and shows his attitude to what he sees as the hypocrisy of an uncompromising establishment which in his eyes causes misery, rather than nurturing the human sole. In The Garden of Love Blake conveys his anti-clerical message in the stanza the gates of this chapel were shut and reflects his view of the church as exclusionary. Moreover, the shut gates imply that the path to heaven and God does not start at the foot of the alter, but in individual belief and spirituality. The idea is further reinforced in the poem by the image of priests binding with briars my joys and desires and thereby placing the priests in the position of Christs oppressors, making them seem malevolent in robbing people of their natural joyful impulse. The alliteration and assonance within the binding with briars further reinforces the idea of a cruel path to supposed salvation. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell challenges traditional Christian theology and makes the statement that Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion, this conveys his belief that whilst society may restrain immorality, religion can create it. The prisons built with stones of law also symbolise how traditional doctrinal teaching has imprisoned personal individuality. Furthermore Good is the passive which obeys reason. Evil is the active springing from energy epitomises the teaching of the Church of Blakes time and is contrary to the sentiments of most contemporary readers in an age prizing individuality and condemnatory of passive indolence. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell was composed after the 1789 French Revolution and in a period of radical ideological and political conflict, therefore Blakes condemnation of apathy is aimed to promulgate his vision of anarchic energy free from the restrain of authority. Reason is the bound or outward circumference of energy suggests that living purely through ones intellect is what constrains boundless energy, which to him is eternal delight. So in this respect it is evident that the traditional authority given to rationality is seen as preventative to living life to its full as the restrainer or reason governs the unwilling. This indicates Blakes view that the natural human instinct is to oppose reason and that to act according to reason is tantamount to acting under duress, in the mistaken belief that to oppose reason is to go against the Good [which] is the passive that obeys reason. In the poem The school Boy Blake condemns school- an institution which tries to teach reason as restricting the childs vivacity in his natural environment. How can the bird that is born for joy sit in a cage and sing? is a metaphor for human imprisonment to show that the environment of the classroom cannot cultivate the unrestrained and joyful energy which Blake reveres. This is in contrast to the sky-lark [which] sings with the boy when he rise[s] in a summer morn When the birds sing on every tree. This illustrates the bucolic setting, filled with aural imagery and how joy prevails in the boundless confines of nature. The repression of man-created institutions such as school can be contrasted to the freedom provided by nature, where arguably God is the only authority. The nurses song centres on the liberating environment of nature where the voices of children are heard on the green and laughing is heard on the hill. This evokes the abundance of delight created by Gods creation of the natural world and how in Blakes time the idyllic countryside of England was yet largely unspoiled by large, polluting manufacturers seeking profit maximisation. The laughing of the children in The Nurses Song almost becomes as natural as the song of the little birds and shows that in such pastoral surroundings the childrens freedom is boundless just as that of the birds. However, this freedom is circumscribed by the watchful nurse in The Nurses Song in Songs of Experience who reprimands the children saying your spring and your day are wasted in play and in contrast to the well intentioned protection of the children in the first Nurses Song, this poem presages the eventual loss of the childrens natural freedom. However, Blake does not oppose parental authority arising from love, that is in the best interests of the child. Whilst he may rightfully condemn the parents in The Chimney Sweeper (experience) who clothed [their child] in the clothes of death And taught [him] to sing the notes of woe, this is because they are uncaring and hostile to their childs happiness that is anathema to them. Consequently, their authority is destructive and oppressive. But, Blake does not condemn the guiding role of the mother in The Little Black Boy, who taught [him] underneath a tree, as her teaching is not institutionalised and rigidly doctrinal, but done outdoors in the natural environment that Blake so venerates. Moreover, at a time when slavery was still legal in England and the general perception of other races was of a racist sort, Blakes portrayal of the boy and his mother in an affectionate manner, devoid of savagery would have challenged the notions of his day. In another radical step away from the customs of his time the introduction to Songs of Innocence gives authority to the child, to which the piper assents. Pipe a song about a lamb. / So I piped with merry cheer paints the child was the origin of creativity and beautiful, with the piper as his instrument. The reference to the lamb suggests that the child has a moral and spiritual purpose and that his youthful innocence makes him more adept than the piper to whom he shoes how to convey the message through song. However the transience of the childs authority is conveyed in the words so he vanished from my sight which re-establishes the reality of Blakes time when children were powerless to resist the demands of their elders and could not dictate their own wishes or destinies. Blakes focus on authority is intended to make a social and political statement about the customs of his day. Arguably, he does not oppose all authority but merely the kind arising from self-interest and requiring the sacrifice of fellow human beings. His poetry advocates individuality and unrestrained vivacity for life rare for his time and fundamentally preaches unbridled equality.