Infernal Love and Faith

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Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human Existence. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell (Blake 69).

When he had spoken: I beheld the Angel who stretched out his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose as Elijah. Note. This Angel, who is now the Devil, is my particular friend; we often read the Bible together in its infernal or diabolical sense which the world shall have if they behave well (Blake 80).

Both passages present a mediocre but apt comparison to what Blake is poignantly attempting to demonstrate in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In the first passage, he tries to create a complex idea, one which creates relations between things. He portrays good as passive, good is also reason and heaven. However, evil, active, energy and hell are more or less not interchangeable, but synonymous. The next passage embodies the complexity of the first one, but presents the Devil as a figure that does not suppress his energy or divinity, but rather, embraces the message of the Body and Soul, by intertwining it with Love and Sex, and Desire and Reason.

Blake deploys the language of contradiction, presenting angels with a negative and devil-like connotation to demonstrate the law of human development. Subjectively, the words in the text break in the middle of the line, creating a caesura, hence, slowing down movements at different intervals to emphasize meaning, or fasten a phrase to initiate more weight. He states, Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction is Repulsion (69), it is already established that Blake sporadically creates a fracture of sorts within this sentence. By separating both lines with a pause, he possibly attempts to create an ominous, or rather dramatic effect in the minds of the readers. In a larger context, interposing the informal and irregular patterns of the lines prevent metrical monotony and emphasizes more meaning. Perhaps, this could be a vivid illustration of the contraries Blake is attempting to demonstrate in this section. Just like in the Songs of Innocence, life is full of joy and pleasure, but within those virtues ensue illiteracy and naivete. While the Songs of Experience has established a social reality, Blake is depicting through these contraries of Attraction and Repulsion / Heaven and Hell, that Energy and Reason repulse one another because they are not a unified purpose.

While energy encompasses one end of the spectrum, Reason seeks another, thereby forming attraction. In essence, Blake demonstrates that Energy and Reason can simultaneously oppose one another, while working for the same purpose. Heaven and Hell serve as an extension of each other; they are both an interwoven part of the human existence. While Blake might seemingly be phrasing these in religious terms, the opposition he might be referring to could possibly date back to the hierarchical philosophy and belief that reason remains on top (Heaven), while passion below (Hell). He is calling for a dynamic union of these oppositions that are necessary to exist within mankind.

The speaker adopts the voice of the Devil which prompts the reader to question whether or not to trust these call for inactions. It prompts one to assume whether this voice is viable and valid in their own rights, or if the readers should refute or debate the legitimacy of his ideas. While the first passage seems to portray the intersectionality between Heaven and Hell, and the Angel and Devil, the second passage brings about the beginning of rapprochement between Blake's Devil and Angel. To vividly demonstrate this, he forces the readers to imagine the momentary surge of emotions that could possibly erupt when attempting to fuse Heaven and Hell together. He states, I beheld the Angel who stretched out his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose as Elijah (80). This initiative is sparked by the devil as he emerges from the flame of fire and summons all infernal energies to challenge and assert power towards the Angels dogma. This vividly parallels the battle between the Angels and the Devil in Milton's Paradise Lost, where the devil and his companions were inadvertently ludicrous to believe they could possibly overthrow their creator. Referring back to Blake's initial statement that Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence (34), he implies that the heavenly contraries which are represented by the angels have been completely dominated by the hellish contraries- the devil, therefore transforming the Angel into a Devil. This metaphorical equivalent of an angel transforming into a devil could perhaps be alluding to the state of mind of the readers. By following the transitional voice and tone of the devil all along, the readers are all consumed in his seductive trance, or even possibly succumbed to his voice of sex, lust and energy.

Otherworldly, the transformation of the angel into a devil suggests a biblical allusion to the meaning of marriage, in which two become one flesh. The intersection of these two souls, and minds into one body attacks the Orthodox position of Marriage, perhaps it seems to consequently argue that by the fusion of the angel and devil's souls, evil has been transformed into good. Figuratively, Blake seems to be refusing the idea that good and evil should be seen as separate, independent contraries, and instead seems to suggest a dynamic in which one contrary (evil) is transformed into and subsumed by its opposite. He abjectly uses a repetitive rhetoric to display the adverse and reticulate meanings behind some of his ambiguous claims. He states, Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell (69). The phrases Good and Evil are constantly repeated at different intervals in the text, as well as ?reason and energy. Blake demonstrates that while both phrases are contrary, they do not negate one another. Hence, as long as reason and good are transparent virtues, they will continue to reveal rather than hinder the divinity of mankind. The line, If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is, infinite (72), demonstrates how Blake seems to refrain from laying emphasis on the nature of mankind as being infinite, but rather, demonstrating a contrast between a fallen vision and a heavenly one.

While the Angel sought to impose he idea of hell upon the narrator, the narrator subconsciously was bound to hell. However, as soon as the angel was no longer there to impose this reality, this idea no longer existed. Readers are forced to think that the idea of heaven and hell are just manifestations of the desires of the believers (people who think that heaven and hell exists), hence, it is once again a controversial idea. Blake then shifts his conceptual argument to the idea of vanity. He goes on to compare Angels to vain creatures who speak wisely of only themselves, he states, I have always found that angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident insolences sprouting from systematic reasoning (79). He criticizes the analogies of Swedenborg and Behmen, questioning their ideas on contraries. Although Behmen's analogies are close, if not the same as the one Blake advocates in The Marriage. Basically, the idea of seeing greatness in mankind as the best way to win God's heart demonstrates that if Jesus Christ is the greatest man, one ought to love him in the greatest degree- of course this opinion is refutable in other religious stances, and could possibly be seen as heresy. In a Christian sense, the readers are forced to acknowledge that Blake could possibly be alluding that any faith worth having, has to be one that can withstand a challenge.

Blake goes on to provide the readers with a long list of ideas, referencing a potential revolution, possibly a revelation that would be freeing from the shackles of expectation. He concludes with a very subtle line which is reminiscent of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge, stating, For everything that lives is holy (82), depicting the idea that without contraries, there is no progression. This phrase reveals the underlying meanings embedded in the previous passages. The reader now has the ability to grasp and understand that everything that lives is holy, nothing is necessarily better than the other, and this includes darkness, evil and sin. Furthermore this unique work embodies the searching critique of ideas and yet, it builds on them. Both passages present the work is a medley of numerous forms, from poetry to proverbs, satiric narratives, parodies of other writers and even allusions to contemporary people. Referring back to the cover image if this poem, it shows at the top, pairs of lovers sitting under some leafless trees, in a very calm yet colorless mode. Underneath them, there are fierce flames blazing upwards, with two figures positioned in a very twisted position (possibly alluding to the confusion of mankind). By gazing at this image, the readers are forced to picture heaven in a higher position compared to Hell. Blake's idea however, forces one to rethink the entire symbolism that heaven and hell have represented. Supposedly, the blazing flames below may not be bad after all.

While Blake is deliberately rehabilitating the satanic (the pride of the devil which prompted his fall from heaven), he does not advocate for cruelty but rather invokes through the monotonous effects of his words that energy and conflict are fundamental to human existence. The body should be seen as a site to no longer imply an opposition between body and mind or body and soul, but instead a dynamic interaction, possibly a marriage of reason and energy. Hence, Blake does infact agree that the human mind is embedded with self-condemnation and repression, and rather, encourages readers to explore beyond the restrictive boundaries of good and evil. To further Blake's analogy of the society and the self, versus the psychology of the mind and the self, his poem, London from the Songs of Experience, epitomizes the same thing if the passages were to be explicated in a political sense. In London, he highlights the way in which the society was forged through the placement of the privileged, referring to them as mind-forged manacles (41). This analogy is necessary when explicating Blake's true message in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell because it is indeed the repressed mind, and suppressed self that restricts individuals from achieving a breakthrough and recreating the meaning of his/her life.

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Infernal Love and Faith. (2019, Aug 12). Retrieved April 20, 2024 , from

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