The Proverbs of Hell by William Blake offers an alternative analogy of how he views different values perceived by individuals. Originally found within the text the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the text showcases the juxtaposition and the inversion of the notion of good and evil. Looking at it, the overall text; Marriage of Heaven and Hell showcase an important distinction of Blake’s writing which can also be observed in the way the ‘Proverbs of Hell was written. “The most obvious starting point is that of the title of the vision, with its emphasis on the “marriage” of two polarised archetypal states, “Heaven” and “Hell” (Glyndwr University, 2006, p.1).
One way the text can be understood is in the way it provides an analogous approach in determining the constraints surrounding the desires of human beings. The lines of the document, with thorough insight and understanding, can provide this analysis that there are deprived actions among individuals due to societal constraints and religious hindrance (Glyndwr University, 2006). To highlight, these are several lines in the poetry that showcase such ideas.
“Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God
The weak in courage is strong in cunning”
(Glyndwr University, 2006, p.1)
Analyzing these lines, it contradicts with the deprivation of actions because various social norms and religious beliefs seem to connote these to be inappropriate and contradict the standards setup by these institutions. Moreover, Blake uses archetypal instruments to connote their relationships and allusions to address his point. He believes that man should be able to practice use both reason and imagination in analyzing his verses (Glyndwr University, 2006, p.1). By doing this a deeper understanding of the context can be made.
Another issue that the proverbs seek to address is by criticizing how various human institutions have been curtailing and hindering the actions of individuals to pursue their interests. Blake, in this section also highlights this tendency by inverting various evil acts and relating them to various human and societal-made institutions to avert and create attention to readers (Glyndwr University, 2006). To point out, here are the lines that provide such concept:
“Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bring of Religion
Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction”
(Glyndwr University, 2006, p.1)
These quotes provide an insight about how Blake feels about the creation of human institutions. His analogy in these verses invites readers to actively criticize and rationalize the other effects of institutions towards men. Though it can actively provide the necessary means to make individuals comply, the drawback is that it hinders individual freedom of exercising actions. In addition, these lines also provide the readers to grasp the deep and multi-faceted meanings in the text which can help each one decipher the various dimensions of life (Glyndwr University, 2006).