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GCSE: William Blake

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Blake and the Romantics

  1. 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. 2 The Romantics sympathised with the 'common man' and supported the American and French revolutions.
  3. 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. 4 Some critics have said that Blake is 'far and away the greatest artist Britain ever produced'.
  5. 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. 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. 2 He was a member of the free love movement and likened some marriages to slavery saying that marriage was 'legalised prostitution'.
  3. 3 In Songs of Innocence and Experience Blake embraced the standard Romanticism of the innocence of childhood.
  4. 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. 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. 1 Blake's poems are deceptively simple but contain strong symbolism and liberal messages concealed within their regular structure and rhyme schemes.
  2. 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. 3 Analyse and do not describe the content of the poem.
  4. 4 Make sure all poetry terminology is accurate to demonstrate understanding of poetic techniques.
  5. 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.

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  1. The Tyger" and "The Lamb" are often 2 poems paired together and I think that was Blakes intention,

    These poems show how horrible and cruel the world really is under the surface of what we see. Blake has many themes represented in his poems from Song of Experience and Songs of Innocence but they mainly centre on his childhood, the aspects of rural and urban life, his protest against the horrible way of life and a strong disliking to the way the Church was run. These points will be discussed in the next poem analyses. "The Tyger" and "The Lamb" are often 2 poems paired together and I think that was Blakes intention, for example line 20 of "The Tyger" it says "Did he who made the Lamb make thee?"

    • Word count: 1272
  2. With reference to 'God's Grandeur' and two other poems including at least one from another era, explore the ways in which the sonnet form is associated with love and ardent expression'. Luke Hyde

    After the poet, Gerard Hopkins, suggests the fact of God's presence in the world, he then asks the reader to ask themselves why humans fail to take note of God's powerful authority. The word 'rod' in this poem represents God's grand authority. The image of electricity also subtlety returns in the fourth line, where the 'rod' of God's punishments calls to mind the lightning rod in which excess electricity in the atmosphere will sometimes disappear. The stressed syllables in the fourth line also reinforce to the reader the question which is being asked here by Hopkins.

    • Word count: 2036
  3. A comparison between Blake's 'London' and Wordsworth's'Westminster Bridge'

    Blake felt himself as free, and the poem is a comment on others living in London. In the first line of the first stanza, he creates immediate effect as he contrasts the words 'wander' with 'charter'd', which he goes on to use to describe the Thames River in the following line. Wander suggests a sense of naturally meandering in an open expanse, contrasting greatly with the latter, which referring to the city itself, suggests a sense of narrow enclosed in space. This description leads the reader to envisage a regulated and constrained city, limited by business and materialism.

    • Word count: 811
  4. What have you understood, from reading the poems of William Blake?

    We see frightening animals like the tiger also the night which we associate with darkness, evil and sin. Blake compares innocence and experience by using; happiness and sadness, health and sickness, day and night, positive and negative emotions, beautiful nature and scary nature also the peaceful country and the hectic city. I see Blake as a very godly man; his poetry has so many layers of meaning to it. In today's society when people look at Blake's poetry they may think it was written by a child as it has a very simplistic outer layer to it but if you look deeper you can see how Blake hides multilayered, profound meaning within his poetry.

    • Word count: 2432
  5. William Blake; The schoolboy

    The poem uses strong themes of nature throughout; the first verse describes a sense of harmony between the schoolboy and nature through a positive description of the sounds of the birds which the schoolboy awakes to hear. Pathetic fallacy is used relating the 'summer' morn to the schoolboy's joy for being awoken in this way. The second verse starts with the conjunction 'but' to link the two verses, yet show the contrast in mood between them. This negative verse outlines the child's dread of school and brings the reader back to reality after the dream-like feel to the first stanza.

    • Word count: 909
  6. Compare and Contrast the two poems, 'London' and 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge'

    He explains how everyone is sad and hopelessly depressed, he points out the prostitutes have no other means of earning money than to sell themselves and how the soldiers have to put their lives on the line whenever the king decides. He makes it interesting as he uses a lot of repetition in each stanza to emphasize his views, ''in every cry of every man, in every cry of infants fear, in every voice, in every ban''. Five uses of the word every in three lines symbolize that he wants a point to be put across to the reader.

    • Word count: 628
  7. Impressions of the people and society Blake lived in.

    Blake was also completely against child labour and oppression against the lower classes this is shown in his poems along with his coldness towards the poverty and disease he saw blossoming next to 'flowers of London town'. The first poem I have chosen is 'London' by William Blake, this is written in quatrains using an alternate rhyme scheme to create a walking beat and together with the first line 'I wander thro' each charter'd street' it gives us a sense of movement.

    • Word count: 1977
  8. With reference to at least four poems, show how they are representative of themes and styles in Songs of Experience.

    Despite all this, the "clod of clay" is still a stoic and innocent in the sense that it remains optimistic through its pain. Blake also uses imagery to illustrate the "pebble of the brook". He gives the readers the impression that the pebble is weathered, worn and impermeable. The themes of cynicism and disillusionment are highlighted in the poem. The "pebble of the brook" is implied to be hardened and cold. Blake also personifies the archetypes of the clod and the pebble.

    • Word count: 3309
  9. I will be discussing the ways in which the poets use animals symbolically by using poetic devices. The three poems that I have chosen are "The Tyger" by William Blake, "The Eagle" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Lastly, Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins. ...

    He stands". He watches the sea pass lower than him his world collapses beneath him n he falls. "And like a thunderbolt he falls" The sun has symbolized God. And his closeness to the eagle. In this poem, the writer has used alliteration "lonely lands" when he wishes to emphasis the nature, its surroundings and beauty's. Followed by short verses. He uses metaphors and long lines to show how strong the bird appears to be. In addition, the eagle waits and watches alone from the mountain highs to catch his pray. in this poem there is a very intellectual skill, which is symbolizing the eagle as the God by saying that everything on the plant is beneath him

    • Word count: 637
  10. Assess the contribution archaeological or written evidence have made to our understanding of the Harbour's significance in Alexandrian life and society.

    AD.'1 Indeed, the harbour established an enclosure as described by Strabo, but was essential in ensuring Alexandria's control over Mediterranean trade (therefore rivalling Rome and Athens) and establishing a significant transhipment centre. The harbour could indeed create 'a direct Hellenistic challenge to the Phoenician maritime and commercial supremacy in the Mediterranean.'2 Ultimately, Alexandria's 'monopoly of the seas was assured.'3 Alexandria's harbour's essential purpose was to provide a spacious enclosure ensuring continual commercial trade. Written evidence has suggested modifications and previous uses for the harbour complex.

    • Word count: 1018
  11. Upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth and London by William Blake

    Upon Westminster Bridge has a very positive view on London. He describes how calm and clear it is and how you could not walk by without noticing its beauty. "Dull would he be of soul who could pass by" He continues to say that the city wears the royalty that is part of it and how special it is to see this place. He then describes many different buildings including temples and how they sit majestically 'all bright and glittering'. Wordsworth says that he has never felt so calm and feels that everything is laying still, even the 'mighty heart'.

    • Word count: 1832
  12. 5 poems by William Blake

    The strongest metaphorical image portrayed in "London" is without a doubt, the "mind-forg'd manacles" on the last line of the second stanza. Also in another poem by Blake called 'The Tyger', the image of 'the forge' appears where "manacles" are produced. Manacles for the hands and shackles for the legs, these would be seen on prisoners being moved from one place to another, this was quite common in London at Blake's time, they were usually on their way to be shipped off to Australia.

    • Word count: 2382
  13. Compare Wordsworth's 'The Old Cumberland Beggar. A Description' (Romantic Writings: An Anthology, pp.78-82) with Blake's two 'Holy Thursday poems (Romantic Writings: An Anthology, pp.17 and 32).

    This rhythm and the fact that the language is very straightforward, creates a lively and easy to read poem. Blake's other 'Holy Thursday' poem, from Songs of Experience, (hereafter HTSE), is written in simple language and is in the form of 4 quatrains/4-lined stanzas. The first has a rhyme scheme of abab, but the remaining 3 stanzas have no rhyme pattern to them. However, as the rhythm is fairly constant, being of iambic metre, it is quite an easy read, having also a good syntax.

    • Word count: 1849
  14. Study of William Blake's Poems of Experience

    The word burning gives a slow but steady feeling so that it makes the reader think that the revolution is alive but it has not yet hit full force and is just biding its time before it can make that crucial hit. The first verse ends by asking a question 'What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry'. I think that this refers to how quickly the revolution got out of control and who could possibly control it after that.

    • Word count: 1665
  15. In the Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience Blake conveys his thoughts and feelings about the treatment of the children of the poor

    The matter of fact language, simple and childlike of the boy speaker explains why this poem that is so clearly set in a world of harsh experience is actually in the Songs of Innocence. The fact that the father sells the child, which may have been and probably was an act of desperation shows how in Blake's time, parents were powerless from being able to protect their children from threat - in some circumstances this could still be true to this day.

    • Word count: 1414
  16. How do William Blake and William Wordsworth respond to nature in their poetry?

    The adjective 'charter'd' illustrates how the Thames is under control. Blake also talks about how the people's minds are not free to think, "The mind-forg'd manacles I hear." The noun 'manacles' describes people's minds as being chained and controlled like slaves and prisoners. 'London' is set in the night time which straight away makes you think about the city being drowned in darkness, "But most thro' midnight streets I hear." The adjective 'most' shows us how nearly everything occurs at night.

    • Word count: 843
  17. A London Fete & Clever Tom Clinch...Comparative essay

    In my opinion I think that Jonathan Swift concentrated on the condemned man more because he might have wanted to tell the a true story that he might have seen when he was still a young boy. The title `A London Fete' has not got anything to do with the actual poem itself, because the word Fete means a carnival. A carnival is known to be exhilarating and pleasing. Likewise inside the poem the crowd retort as if, in my opinion, they were fighting each other to get a million pounds.

    • Word count: 1453
  18. Choose 2 poems by William Blake and consider how they capture his concerns as a poet.

    'The Lamb' and 'The Tyger' are both poems written in the form of a lyric which describes the capturing of a particular moment and most importantly the mood or insight it stimulates in the poet. Blake thought that a lyric gives the freedom to tell anything and explore the emotions and ideas that some incident has created. Blake shows the original meaning of 'lyric' by actually titling his volume 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience'. The 'Songs of Innocence' are poems which bring out happy feelings and show the greatness in life.

    • Word count: 1659
  19. Wordsworth and Blake offer very differentPictures of London in these poems. Give a detailed account ofBoth poems, bringing out the differences between the two poets views of London

    Blake has a strong view because he feels that the church should be making a statement against child labour but instead he thinks that they are not particularly bothered about child labour. He also quotes in his poem that "in every infants cry of fear". I personally think that Blake is scared for the child generation of London because he thinks they are going to be inflicted in poverty when they grow up. Blake has a strong and personal view on love because he feels that men are changing women in to a possession and they are being used.

    • Word count: 974
  20. Write a critical analysis of 'The Chimney Sweeper' and 'The Little Black Boy' looking for points of contrast and comparison between the poems.

    However, having said this, the poem offers the proposal that the little black boy is, in a sense, superior to the little white boy, "Ill shade him from the heat till he can bear." This quotation shows that the little black boy's "sun-burnt face" is able to "bear the beams of love" from God but because the English boy is white, it indicates that he cannot stand the power of God's love, whereas the little black boy, who has suffered through life, can.

    • Word count: 863
  21. How Does William Blake convey his anger in the poem ' London'

    in London posses as the 'streets' is a metahor for the general public while the 'thames' represents their freedom, this is as rivers are normally associated with free will while the 'streets' are gernerally associated with the lower class in society. So, by describing the streets and the thames as being 'chartered', Blake is then able to create an image in the readers mind of the public being severly opressed by figures of authority. Another image that the writer creates, of an opressed scoiety, is the metaphor 'mind for'ged manacles', this is as the 'manacles' are only 'forged' by the

    • Word count: 1513
  22. 'On Another's Sorrow.'

    when he asks, if I can not feel sorrow when I see another feeling sorrow?, and when I see another feeling grief can I not go and find relief from it? He answers this with 'no it can never be.' This then leads the reader to ask themselves where he will find this relief. Blake then in the second half of the poem shows that God is the one who you can seek relief in and who is there to help in times of sorrow.

    • Word count: 694
  23. Compare and contrast the three portrayals of London in Blake's "London", Wordsworth's "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" and Johnson's "Inglan Is A Bitch".

    Clearly, Blake does not like London, and uses imagery to show this. With use of repetition, vivid images of the dirty, and miserable place he sees are created. Wordsworth however, has a very different approach to London. He sees it as the finest place on Earth, and that never before has he seen a place that really is so beautiful as London. He says that if you don't see London as being like this, then you have no soul, no feelings.

    • Word count: 1230
  24. Law and Order in the first part of the nineteenth century

    Finally in 1856 every county and borough had to maintain a police force. The Metropolitan police force had many different duties. The man on the beat was there to stop disorderly behaviour. So this meant the Metropolitan Police Force were to deal with beggars, drunkenness, vagrants and prostitutes. In the second half of the nineteenth centuary London's streets became more orderly, but as a consequence of this the number of burglaries went up. Another of the Metropolitan Police Forces duties was to deal with major disturbances. Police constables received very little training in the late nineteenth century and often learnt their trade " on the job".

    • Word count: 1183
  25. "Blake is primarily a religious poet." Explore some of the ways in which Blake treats the Church and religion in the Songs of Innocence and Experience.

    Also in "On Another's Sorrow," religion is seen as immanent, as God "gives to us his joy." A simple view is portrayed: one that God is ever present and is there within everyone. Images of the Church and religion are juxtaposed to images of joy, fun and laughter, showing the simple view of religion portrayed. This view is extended in "The Divine Image" in which the balanced structure continues the child-like view of religion. The image that God is present within everyone is also shown in "The Divine Image" is that God is ever-present within everyone.

    • Word count: 942

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