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Innocence and Experience Essay

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In Encarta Dictionary the meanings of the word ‘innocence’ are absence of being guilty of crime or offence, freedom from sin, lack of worldly experience The meanings of ‘experience’ are knowledge and skills and the sum total of things that have happened to a person and of his or her past thoughts and feelings. This essay states that innocence and experience are two states of human being. At some point of time, the child in us makes the journey from innocence to experience.

We lose innocence by gaining experience through knowledge and real life incidents.

The experience we gain is inevitable, whether good or bad. This is explained through two literary works: Thomas Hardy’s novel ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ and Blake’s two poems,’ The Lamb’ and ‘The Tyger’. In ‘Tess of d’Urbervilles’, the innocent girl Tess gains experience by losing her virginity. By killing Alec D’Urbervilles, her seducer, she loses her innocence completely and gains the experience of a criminal.

She pays the price of experience by her death. Hardy’s inclusion of elements of ‘coincident’ and ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ shows the inevitability of such experiences and the resulting tragedy in the novel.

Blake in his poem ‘The Lamb’ the meek and mild lamb is the symbol of innocence and Tyger in his poem’ The Tyger’ is the symbol of experience. Through these poems Blake wants to convey that innocence and experience are “two contrary states of human soul” with respect to creation. In ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, Tess is an innocent country girl who is unaware of the evils of society. Her parents as well do not advise her about the danger in men-folks so she is easily seduced by Alec.

Hardy writes: “Why it is that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as a gossamer and practically blank as a snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive”. Again, after her loss of virginity, she gains experience and matures as a woman, her beauty is enhanced. Angel notice her and they fall in love with each other. She enjoys happiness and bliss for the time being. His love for Tess is abstract, as he calls her “Daughter of Nature” or “Demeter. ” Tess is more an archetype or ideal to him than a flesh and blood woman with a complicated life.

Therefore he cannot accept that Tess is not chaste, as a result he abandon hers. He realizes his mistake too late. She takes the aid of Alec after misfortune befell her family. She loses her innocence completely when she commits the crime of murdering Alec and as a result she is hanged. Hardy’s writing style of using elaborate descriptions, long sentences, elements of coincidence, fate and destiny shows Tess’ inevitable journey from innocence to experience and the resultant doom. In Blake’s poem ‘The Lamb’, Lamb symbolizes Jesus and the child is also associated with Jesus.

So the lamb and child in Jesus symbolizes innocence. In “The Lamb” the style of repetition in the first and last couplet of each stanza helps to give the poem its song-like quality. The flowing l’s and soft vowel sounds add to this effect, and also imply the bleating of a lamb or the lisping character of a child’s song. In Blake’s poem ‘The Tyger’, Tyger is the symbol of experience. It is strikingly beautiful at the same time undeniable because of the underlying evil and violence. To describe the Tyger, Blake uses the imagery of ‘fire’, which is destructive at the same time illuminating.

The ‘Tyger’ presents evil in society, something that cannot be denied. The style of regular and rhythmic meter of the quatrains; its hammering beat suggests the work of the creator, which is the poem’s central image. Blake believed that a person has to pass through a state of innocence, the Lamb as well as understand the contrasting conditions of experience, Tyger, to reach a higher level of consciousness. Blake’s vision of a creative force in the universe which makes a balance of innocence and experience is at the heart of the poem.

The two literary works Hardy’s ‘Tess of d’Urbervilles’ and Blake’ ‘The Lamb’ and ‘The Tyger’ show that Innocence and Experience, both exist in human life and society and experience is an essential part of human existence whether good or bad.

Work Citation: “The Tyger”. 8 October 2007. < http://www. cs. rice. edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/66. html> “’Songs of Innocence and Experience’: ‘The Tyger’ by Blake”. 8 October 2007. <http://www. sparknotes. com/poetry/blake/section6. rhtml> “’Songs of Innocence and Experience’: ‘The lamb’ by Blake”. 8 October 2007. < http://www. sparknotes. com/poetry/blake/section1. html>

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