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William Blake's Poetry compared to Ben Jonson's Volpone

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Myra Amador

on 15 April 2015

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Transcript of William Blake's Poetry compared to Ben Jonson's Volpone

William Blake's Poetry compared to Ben Jonson's Volpone
Context
Songs of Innocence and Experience
Volpone
Ben Jonson
Jonson's works were written in the 17th Century. He aimed to teach people through his plays how to live - through the punishment of Mosca and Volpone, he illustrates how a corrupt society/people are punished.
William Blake
Blake's Poetry was written in 18th Century England. He disapproved of institutionalised religion, the tradition of monogamous marriages and internalizing social normalities. Although, it is worth highlighting that many of Blake's ideologies are assumptions based on his works.
Ah! Sunflower
An unnamed persona - likely to be Blake - addresses a sunflower in an exclamatory tone 'ah!' which can be seen as regretful. The sunflower links to Ovid's Metamorphosis, where the virgin pines for the sun and is turned into the sunflower. Represents internalized societal values and how the sunflower is stuck and cannot follow the sun into the 'Golden Age'. There is typical symbolism of nature throughout
Detail 2
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Detail 4
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Detail 3
Narrative Overview:
A maiden is loved by an Angel but does not respond due to internalized society values, so the Angel leaves. When he returns, the woman has armed herself and has aged, so his journey was made in vain.
Ideas Addressed:
The value of virginity that society has defined
The process of socialization - internalizing the views of society
Repression of natural feelings - does this lead to regret?
Symbolism
The Angel is a symbol of innocence - the unrestrained self whereas the maiden is a symbol of experience - constrained by society
Language, Form and Structure
Blake adopts a female persona
Tetrameter - 4 feet to a line
Four stanzas - 4 line structure - aabb rhyme scheme
Archaic syntax
Melancholic, depressive tone
Comparison with 'Volpone'
Conflicting views - Jonson believes that people should be restricted by the law - Volpone is punished at the end but Blake thinks that we should allow ourselves to be unconstrained - the maiden regrets
My Pretty Rose Tree
The narrator claims possession over a rose tree - possibly symbolic of their partner - with the use of 'my'. The rose tree turns away from the narrator in jealousy after the persona was offered 'such as flower as May never bore'. Jealousy is caused from insecurity and Blake disapproves of this. The persona turns away the beautiful flower which is denying himself pleasure due to responsibility - Blake seems to disapprove of this.
Comparisons to Volpone
My Pretty Rose Tree - Corvino is jealous of Celia - even though she is virtuous - jealous for no reason like the Rose Tree
My Pretty Rose Tree - Corvino's possession of Celia - 'my wife' can be compared to the possession of the narrator 'my pretty rose tree'
Ah! Sunflower - The sunflower seeks the sun like Volpone seeks Celia - the sunflower is stuck but Volpone attempts to seduce Celia
Ah! Sunflower - Tone seems regretful of unfulfilled desires - Volpone takes what he wants - carpe diem
Full transcript