Criticism of "The Sick Rose"

Topics: William Blake, Poetry, Donald Ault Pages: 3 (935 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Criticism of "The Sick Rose"

By analyzing more information from different authors, I was able to draw a greater amount contrast from the authors. I had a better feel for what they were trying to convey when they wrote their critical essays in their books. Whatever the case, it was easier to judge "The Sick Rose" by having more sources to reflect upon.

Michael Riffaterre centers his analysis of "The Sick Rose" in "The Self- sufficient Text" by "using internal evidence only [to analyze the poem] and to determine to what extent the literary text is self-sufficient. It seems to [Riffaterre] that a proper reading entails no more than a knowledge of the language" (39). Riffaterre identifies psychological, philosophical, and genetic interpretations (connected to "mythological tradition") as "aiming outwards." These approaches find the meaning of the text in the relationship of its images to other texts" (40). Riffaterre argues for a more internal reading of the poems. Riffaterre emphasizes the importance of the relationships between words as opposed to their "corresponding realities" (40). For example, he states that the "flower or the fruit is a variant of the worm's dwelling constructed through destruction. Thus, as a word, worm is meaningful only in the context of flower, and flower only in the context of worm" (41). After Riffaterre's reading and in terpretation of the poem, he concludes that "The Sick Rose" is composed of "polarized polarities" (44) which convey the central object of the poem, the actual phrase, "the sick rose" (44). He asserts that "because the text provides all the elements necessary to our identifying these verbal artifacts, we do not have to resort to traditions or symbols found outside the text" (44). Thus, "The Sick Rose" is a self-sufficient text.

Hazard Adams takes a different approach to reading "The Sick Rose" than most critics by cautioning the reader that often one "overlook[s] the fact that a literary...

Cited: Adams, Hazard. William Blake. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1963.
Riffaterre, Michael. "The Self-sufficient text." Diacritics 3.3 (1973): 39-45.
Holloway, John. Blake: The Lyric Poetry. London: Arnold, 1968.
Langland, Elizabeth. "Blake 's Feminist Revision of Literary Tradition in 'The
Sick Rose '." In Critical Paths. Ed. Dan Miller, Mark Bracher, and Donald Ault.
Durham: Duke UP, 1987. 225-43.
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