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To what extent is it evident through the poetry of William Blake that he hated tyranny and celebrated liberty?

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Introduction

To what extent is it evident through the poetry of William Blake that he hated tyranny and celebrated liberty? William Blake was born in 1757, during a period of great change in western political ideas. The poor had begun to realise that they did not have to live as serfs under the rich, and were breaking free of these old bonds, The main examples of this being The French revolution in 1792 and the American Revolution in 1775, both now considered as some of the most important events in history. Blake was a great supporter of these movements, and believed that the same should happen in England. This is why many of the Aristocracy at the time considered Blake a threat to their comfortable way of life. The tiger in Blake's most famous poem is said to represent the French Revolution, 'What immortal hand or eye, can frame thy fearful symmetry?' he writes, making clear his view of the power and greatness of this movement. Although Blake didn't go as far in his protests as the French, he is very subversive in his views the ruling classes in his poetry, although he uses well known symbols and metaphors to voice his criticism. ...read more.

Middle

He firmly believed that the imagination was an important part of human character, and must be allowed to run free, instead of being trapped by indoctrination or brainwashing by the Church or the Aristocracy. In his poem 'London' from the 'Songs of Experience', he writes 'the mind-forged manacles I hear.' This suggests that it is the people themselves who haven't the imagination to break free. When he was ten he attended a drawing school, and at fourteen was apprenticed to an engraver; an occupation he was to maintain for the rest of his life, and which kept him in money until he died. Blake shows us in his poetry how life during the smog-ridden and dirty Industrial Revolution was, by contrasting it against the countryside, which he uses as his idea of heaven or Eden-the perfect place for man. We can divide Blake's poetry into three sections; poems that celebrate the best ways of living, poems that show how society corrupts/the problems with man's values, and poems that show us how Blake would like us to live. I have chosen poems from "Songs of Innocence and Experience" to illustrate Blake's hate of tyranny and love of liberty. ...read more.

Conclusion

He speaks of the "Chartered Thames" and "Chartered streets". This is reflective of the fact that London had just been fully mapped for the first time, something that Blake considered wrong, as he believed that London was almost a living thing, always changing and moving. He felt that tom map it was to kill its spirit, and therefore hated the regularity of the map's straight-line streets and river. Through these poems, Blake speaks of his moral view of the world. It is clear that he cannot bear to see either children or adults oppressed under the tyrannical regimes that they live in, but are unable to imagine living without. Blake does not just want physical liberty from the Aristocracy and Church; he calls for a mental liberty, a freedom from indoctrination and mental bonds. Blake's work is still relevant today. People are still oppressed both physically and mentally throughout the world. Changes have happened, but there are still in England many that must resort to working in terrible conditions for little pay, and are unable to break free. Blake's poetry is just as relevant to them now as it ever was, and will probably always be relevant to some. ...read more.

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