English Literature When Surveying the Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause: there's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscover'd country from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pith and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!

The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins remember'd.

William Blake was an important poet of the early Romantic movement in England. Although he was once considered to be mad for his dark, imaginative verse, today he is considered to be among the most vital English-language poets of the 18th century. One sees in Blake a sign of breaking away from an earlier era of morality, thought, and the tendency to assign universal values to human endeavor. This would pave the way for poets of the Romantic era to explore these themes in greater detail. One sees the doors of the Romantic movement opening in such quintessential Blakean works such as the Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

All Bibles or sacred codes, have been the causes of the following Errors.

That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul.

That Energy, called Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, called Good, is alone from the Soul.

That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

But the following Contraries to these are True.

Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.

Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.

Energy is Eternal Delight.

The world was almost not ready for Blake when he penned these verses above, but one can readily see how Blake and the Romantics would not have been possible were it not for the development of individuality throughout the course of English literature. This development that began with an assertion of collectivity in the Medieval period and shifted to a concern with subjective experience in the Renaissance. Blake in many ways wrote the blueprint in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell for the great subject that would ultimately pre-occupy the Romantics - a concern with the idiosyncrasies of the individual in a rapidly…

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