Prophet Against Oppression: An analysis of William Blake's visionary politics in America and Jerusalem
My curiosity and loyalty toward Blake led me to write this thesis which focuses on Blake's prophetic works in America and Jerusalem. I chose these two poems because America represents Blake's first prophecy printed in 1793 and Jerusalem is Blake's last prophecy printed in 1804. America and Jerusalem provide the reader with a fairly complete picture of Blake's political vision, since they encompass his earlier thoughts and last efforts to complete his political vision--a vision that changed significantly throughout his lifetime. In order to understand Blake's political prophecies, even partially, the reader must be reasonably acquainted with the eighteenth century—the historical context he lived in. Therefore, the beginning of my thesis includes a chapter dedicated to providing a basic understanding of that century. In chapter two, I focus on the political themes contained in America. Next, I provide a brief overview of Blake's visionary universe described in Jerusalem. And, finally, I critique the shift in Blake's political vision from the focus on violent revolution in America to the emphasis on brotherhood, love, and forgiveness in Jerusalem. By following Blake's "golden string," I have entered a state of experience regarding my knowledge of Blake's vision. Still, my understanding is far from complete. Fortunately, Blake's poems America and Jerusalem clearly outline his political vision, and I hope my analysis provides some insight into Blake's visionary universe where the thoughts and armies of the eighteenth century violently clashed.