Blake’s Erotic Apocalypse: The Androgynous Ideal in ‘Jerusalem’, by Diane Hoeveler

From the Hermaphrodite to the Androgynous: Reintegrating the Male and Female

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Introduction: Sexual Warfare: The Origins of the Battles of the Sexes

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Detail from Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Which is also a marriage of Male and Female – not understood externally, inter-psychically, in the fallen and projected way, but intra-psychically – to overcome the divisions and separations within oneself. Note that the figures here are themselves androgynous.

The imagery of sexual warfare is central to the vision of apocalypse which Blake proclaims as his poetic mission. The political apocalypse of the earlier work, such as The French Revolution, fades as the spiritual gains prominence, for Blake’s vision of the natural world seems to have darkened over the years so that by the time he was writing Jerusalem the only apocalypse he could endorse was one in which the ”sexes must cease and vanish” in the psyche so that humanity can assume its spiritualized “body.” It became clear to Blake that political reform of society could not be effected until an individual and spiritual redemption took place in every heart. To become androgynous, to overcome the flaws inherent in each sex, emerges as the central challenge for all Blake’s characters. 

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The Veil of Vala: Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ and the Origins of Patriarchy, by Marc Kaplan

The Genitals as Private Property: Sexual Possessiveness and the roots of Jealousy, Monogamy and Patriarchy 

“Albion here is at the stage where patriarchy institutionalizes and encourages the worship of the mother-goddess; Babylon was such a civilization”

 

Jerusalem and the Origins of Patriarchy

“O Albion why wilt thou Create a Female Will?” Los wails in Jerusalem (30:31). The term “Female Will” here makes its first appearance in Blake’s poetry, though for years critics have used it retroactively to explicate prior works, because it ties together so many of the sinister actions of the women characters of the earlier poetry.

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