2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Blake's Necessary Evil: The Role of Contraries in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Leigh K. Wickell
Dr. Royce Kallerud, Faculty Mentor

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake states forthrightly, "Without Contraries is no progression." Focusing on the relationship between good and evil, Blake’s "contraries"—"Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate"—form the backbone of the work. Blake challenges the traditional view, that something is either good or evil, positing that both must exist. Yet in his essay "The Context of Blakean Contraries in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," David Stewart claims that because Blake wrote that a particular angel has metamorphosed into a devil, he actually believed in a "dynamic in which one contrary (evil) is transformed into or absorbed by its opposite." This paper argues that by reasserting the conventional priority of good over evil Stewart fails to account for the power Blake ascribes to naming. By thinking in terms of contraries, readers are able to better understand these qualities in their own actions.

Keywords: Blake, Contraries, Stewart, Good, Evil, Heaven, Hell


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 33-3
Location: OP 2121
Time: 1:45

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