The Re-presentations and Revisions of Christian Archetypes in William Blake’s Poetry
KeywordsEurope: a Prophecy
America: a Prophecy
Songs of Experience
Songs of Innocence
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This thesis aims to examine the Christian archetypes in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, America: a Prophecy, and Europe: a Prophecy, and to discuss how Blake re-presents and revises them through an approach concerning sex as a form of human desire. Chapter One provides the basic definitions for “revision” and “archetype,” and illustrates the divine familial relationship of God the father, Nature the mother, and human beings the children in orthodox Christianity. This chapter also shows how sex functions in the forming of this relationship, on which the orthodox Christian mythology is constructed. In Chapter Two, I discuss the multi-layered structure of the Songs. In the Songs of Innocence, the archetype of Nature is domesticated/desexualized as an illusionary Eden, employed as a religious device to oppress human individuals, especially about sexual prohibition. In the Songs of Experience, Nature is re-called and sexualized by the poet to warn human beings of the religious distortion and blackening of sex. Chapter Three focuses on two early prophetic books of Blake, America and Europe, through the scope of “arche-typological” antithesis between God/the father and Jesus/the son. The Christian archetypes of God and Jesus are respectively reified by Blake’s mythical characters Urizen and Orc, and their war signifies the eternal strife between sexual liberation and oppression. The Nature /mother archetype is presented as Enitharmon to criticize the sexual prohibition represented by the image of Virgin Mary. Chapter Four concludes that Blake’s own unique version of Christianity is embodied by his re-presentations and revisions of the archetypes in the orthodox Christian mythology. By re-including sexual desire into such a mythology, Blake presents a new and more liberal Christian belief.