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GCSE: William Blake
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Blake and the Romantics
- 1 Blake along with Wordsworth, Keats, Byron and Coleridge are all associated with the Romantic movement in Europe in the late 18th century and early 19th century.
- 2 The Romantics sympathised with the 'common man' and supported the American and French revolutions.
- 3 Considered mad in his lifetime Blake was a seminal figure in the poetry and art of the Romantic age and some of his poetry has been said to be 'prophetic'.
- 4 Some critics have said that Blake is 'far and away the greatest artist Britain ever produced'.
- 5 Blake, along with other Romantics hated what the industrial revolution had done to Britain's cities especially London and idealised the countryside.
Blake's ideas and expression
- 1 Blake had progressive ideas and saw visions of angels throughout his life. He was deeply philosophical and mystical he was very religious but criticised organised religion.
- 2 He was a member of the free love movement and likened some marriages to slavery saying that marriage was 'legalised prostitution'.
- 3 In Songs of Innocence and Experience Blake embraced the standard Romanticism of the innocence of childhood.
- 4 In the Songs of Experience Blake shows how innocence is lost by fear, political, social and economic corruption and how people are oppressed by the church, government and the ruling classes.
- 5 Blake illustrated the poems themselves and they follow the ideas of Milton's Paradise Lost and the fall which he had illustrated previously.
Things to consider when writing essays on Blake's work
- 1 Blake's poems are deceptively simple but contain strong symbolism and liberal messages concealed within their regular structure and rhyme schemes.
- 2 Focus on the question by referring to it in the introduction, conclusion and by writing topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph.
- 3 Analyse and do not describe the content of the poem.
- 4 Make sure all poetry terminology is accurate to demonstrate understanding of poetic techniques.
- 5 Always consider what you know of Blake's life and strongly held beliefs - the themes of social conditions, the poor, corruption, industrialisation, the church and marriage are present in all of his poems.
The pebble?s pessimism about love, on the other hand, is unpleasant and unsettling, but it?s also a more accurate reflection of the brutal nature of the world as it is depicted in the poem. Blake?s presentation of love, then, is ambivalent. While the ideal that love is able to overcome any circumstance is appealing, it might not be a realistic assessment in the context of the world?s cruelty. Blake?s personification of the clod and the pebble captures two very different human experiences.
- Word count: 891