William Blake
Mrs. Cumberland
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Symbols that reveal universal truths
Archetypes hold strong emotional power
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Blake’s poetry is filled with archetypes
 They helped put his mystical visions into words
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They consist of plot patterns, character types, and
themes that transcend time and culture.
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Lamb
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Fire
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Meaning messenger
“my father sold me”
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Meaning place where human fates are created
Angel
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Meaning innocent
Anvil
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Meaning The baby Jesus
Child
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Meaning Jesus Christ
Swaddling bands
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Meaning Jesus Christ
Suggests that Blake wanted to point out the desperate lives of the poor
“got with our bags and our brushes to work”
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Suggests that Blake wanted to highlight the problem of child labor
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Blake often expressed archetypes in paired
poems such as “The Lamb” and “The Tyger”
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Commenting on social injustices of his time
He critiqued events and popular beliefs in his
social commentary.
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Historical and political references support his
opinions and add credibility to his writing
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Criticism of the ills caused by the Industrial
revolution and political tyranny
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A critical perspective is a way of looking at a
work of literature.
Two types:
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Archetypal perspective: looking at the universal
symbols in the work
 Images, details, and patterns that seem to have a strong
emotional charge and appear across many different
cultures
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Historical perspective: looking at the political,
economic, and cultural background of the work

Archetypes and Social Commentary