Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bruce Graver, English
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is William Blake’s articulation of his reaction to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. After analyzing Blake’s reaction to Paradise Lost, I will suggest how Blake’s reading of Milton helped shape 20th-century criticism, specifically post-war Miltonic criticism. My paper will begin by considering Blake’s rewriting of Milton in the ‘Argument’ of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, starting at the Adamic myth. I will continue my analysis with looking at the famous passage on Plate 6 when Blake writes, “The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it” (Blake 6). I will then look at his specific comments that draw directly from Paradise Lost, and end with a consideration of the ‘Memorable Fancy’ where Blake depicts Hell as a printing press. I will then compare and contrast Milton’s depiction of Hell with Blake’s in order to show the complexity of Blake’s reaction to Paradise Lost. In my conclusion, I will point to some of the major debates about Paradise Lost in the late 20th century, and suggest the ways in which the interest in Blake’s reading of Milton, as described in Northrop Frye’s Fearful Symmetry, help reshape our understanding of Milton’s epic. I intend to show how this analysis gives new significance to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell itself.
4-22-2020 12:00 AM
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