Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Dr. Phebe Jensen
Though writing more than one-hundred years apart, the poetic works of John Milton and William Blake interacted with one another to such an extent that they have become increasingly entwined within the critical imagination of scholars over the past two centuries. Despite the recognition of the influence of Milton upon Blake, and subsequent examinations of Blake’s opinions of Milton as an artist, a thorough examination of Blake’s opinion of Milton as the narrator of Paradise Lost has heretofore remained unattempted. This essay examines Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience as a lens through which to interpret the narrator of Paradise Lost. Reading Milton in this light reveals a fallen and troubled narrator attempting to represent innocence, yet encountering difficulties due to his fallen condition. Through his poetry Blake examines the nature of Milton’s narrator, ultimately demonstrating that the problems of innocence within Paradise Lost, namely the transience of innocence and the vulnerability of those in a state of innocence, stem originally from the fallen narrator’s impossible task of representing a condition which has been lost to him.
Spratt, Andrew M., "Innocence Lost: The Tension of Contrary States in Blake and Milton" (2011). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 97.
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