3rd Period IB English A1 HL
COMPARE AND CONTRAST WILLIAM BLAKE AND JEAN RHYS ESSAY
William Blake, with his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, and Jean Rhys, in Wide Sargasso Sea, utilize extensive symbolism and imagery in their respective works. They use imagery related to nature to symbolize Heaven/Hell or good/evil. They also use this imagery to emphasize the morals of their literary works and indicate, in the case of Wide Sargasso Sea, how the current events would lead to the conclusion of the book. Not only do their books share extensive usage of symbolism, but they also share common themes, (at least the Songs of Experience and Wide Sargasso Sea do) and ideas. These ideas could include the decay of good into corruption and the duality of the human nature which stretches from virtuous morality to corruption.
William Blake uses extensive symbolism to create points that epitomize his vision of the opposing facets of the human soul. In The Clod & the Pebble in the Songs of Experience, Blake takes the conventional idea of love, that it “builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair,” and denounces it by saying that it, in fact, “builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.” This poem ties in with the plot of Wide Sargasso Sea in that even when Antoinette tried desperately to find love, but found her love for another lead to her own living hell on earth. She was crushed spiritually. This symbolism is reflected in Wide Sargasso Sea when, in the end of the book, the house is burning around her (page 170). “It was red and all my life was in it. I saw the grandfather clock and Aunt Cora’s patchwork, all colours, I saw the orchids and the stephanotis and the jasmine and the tree of life in flames.” In this instance, the fire symbolizes the spiritual death Antoinette has undergone. This death has been brought about by Antoinette’s attempt to find love. She thought it would solve all her problems, but it did the exact opposite and destroyed her.