Alternative Analysis Of William Blake's The Human Abstract

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Annabel Beach Professor Knox English 1102 13 February 2018 “The Human Abstract” In William Blake’s, “The Human Abstract,” he touches on various points regarding the morality of humans and stresses how a wide range of emotions, both virtuous and evil, are produced by the human mind. He argues that humans are inclined to an inherent selfishness, and he considers the excuses made to justify the unkind actions made by them. Blake utilizes literary devices and imagery to discuss the various themes presented in the poem. “The Human Abstract,” unlike any of Blake’s other poems, presents an alternative analysis about the human ability to form ideas through the excessive use of rational thought concerning the virtues of Mercy, Pity, Peace, and…show more content…
This style of writing that Blake utilizes in his poem creates a frank and straightforward tone, leaving none of his remarks regarding human nature open for discussion. In the first stanza two justifications for human moral weakness are made regarding pity and mercy. Blake presents his beliefs concerning moral and social issues and considers the prevailing system by saying, “Pity would be no more, / If we did not make somebody Poor” (lines 1-2). In other words, if poverty did not exist, there would be no reason for people to employ pity or empathy. Blake then ties mercy into the mix by saying that it also would not exist “if all were as happy as we” (line 4). Although pity and mercy are not alike at all, they correlate when used in this poem in the way that they can only occur where the affluent and poor exist. In doing this, Blake makes a point that the affluent tend to use pity and mercy to mitigate any guilt-ridden thoughts concerning the inequality that so obviously takes place. In addition, he personifies and places emphasis on the three words “Pity, Poor, and Mercy” by…show more content…
Blake describes the “fruit of Deceit” that grows on the Tree of Cruelty as “ruddy and sweet to eat,” illustrating it to be tempting and irresistable (line 18). This alludes to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit, and takes the stance that so long as this Tree exists, mankind will be forever be deceitful. The Raven, another metaphorical character, is introduced in the fifth stanza building “his nest… in the thickest shade” (line 19-20). Ravens are large, black ominous birds, symbolic of death and eternity, and a raven that builds its nest in the thickest or strongest shade of religion can withstand any of the dreadful tendencies that come along with it, such as violence and war. Blake ends the poem by telling us for some time “the Gods of earth and sea / Sought thro' Nature to find this Tree,” indicating that they have searched all throughout the world to find the tree in order to ascertain the true nature of things (lines 25-26). However, the Gods failed to find the tree because rather than it being outside in nature, it grows in the human mind. In saying this, Blake makes the human mind out to be the vessel by which the whole structure prevails. He ties everything previously mentioned in the poem back to the human mind, implying that humans cannot blame anyone but themselves for their nature and behavior, both
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