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Serpent Imagery in William Blake's Prophetic Works

Description: William Blake's prophetic works are made up almost entirely of a unique combination of symbols and imagery. To understand his books it is necessary to be aware that he used his prophetic symbols because he found them apt to what he was saying, and that he changed their meanings as the reasons for their aptness changed. An awareness of this manipulation of symbols will lead to a more perceptive understanding of Blake's work. This paper is concerned with three specific uses of serpent imagery by Blake. The first chapter deals with the serpent of selfhood. Blake uses the wingless Uraeon to depict man destroying himself through his own constrictive analytic reasonings unenlightened with divine vision. Man had once possessed this divine vision, but as formal religions and a priestly class began to be formed, he lost it and worshipped only reason and cruelty. Blake also uses the image of the serpent crown to characterize priests or anyone in a position of authority. He usually mocks both religious and temporal rulers and identifies them as oppressors rather than leaders of the people. In addition to the Uraeon and the serpent crown, Blake also uses the narrow constricted body of the serpent and the encircled serpent to represent narrowmindedness and selfish possessiveness. The second chapter deals with the serpent as a symbolic force of energy itself. Blake uses the serpent to represent birth, the life force, guardian of life forces, inner strength, resurrection, forces of destruction, and rebellion against tyranny. The Orc figure, a mythological creation of Blake, is the major representative of all phases of energy. He is a Promethean figure of rebellion and often described by Blake as having a "serpent body." His birth represents the awakening of a terrible, uncontrolled energy which will bring war, destruction, and death. He ...
Date: December 1975
Creator: Shasberger, Linda M.

Toward a Phenomenological Theory of Literature

Description: The problem is the investigation of the possibility of an alternative theory of literature that attempts to show literature's relation to human consciousness. A phenomenological theory of literature is presented as a comprehensive theory of literature as opposed to extrinsic theories that are not comprehensive. The basic assumption is that a comprehensive theory of literature must take into account literature's relationship to human consciousness. The shortcomings of traditional modes of literary theory are discussed in order to provide grounds for the proposed intrinsic alternative. The philosophical foundations for the proposed alternative are laid in the phenomenology of Husserl, Ingarden, Heidegger, and the French existentialists. These four positions are mediated through the introduction of the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. Finally, the proposed alternative theory of literature is applied to the test case of Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim.
Date: December 1975
Creator: Taylor, Larry G.