The declaration of Independance and a little bit about John Locke

Fourth_of_July_by_Radojavor

On the 4th of July 1776, the thirteen colonized states declared their independence. The settlers wanted their independence from Great-Britain; they paid a lot of taxes but had nothing in return, had not liberty of trade, had to support the war effort and didn’t have any American representative. This led to the Independence war. At that time, George III ruled over England. He was a stubborn king who wanted to create an absolute monarchy. To him, colonies were a way to dominate Europe in time of war for they had considerable resources. In 1783, the war was settled by the Treaty of Paris and Americans gained their freedom.

Extract of the Declaration of Independence can be found here:

What values is this society founded on?

This society is founded on Puritans values: All man were created equal and have undeniable rights. Those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Theses values are self-evident and were a source of inspiration for many people (French included) . The declaration was a foundation of the new societies they were creating at the time. This Republic gave power to the people and in 1919, it gave women voting rights. It also separated the three main powers.

(French people were inspired by it but added “brotherhood” instead of “the pursuit of happiness”. )

A critical look on the text:

Since everyone has a right to live, why is there a death penalty or abortions?

“All men were created equal” –> What about the African population with the civil War?

The declaration has some ideals –> Gives it a Utopian aspect

I have been to the States before and was pretty amazed to see how patriotic people were. I can tell this means something to them. When I sneaked in Senior High for a day, I kinda got caught in the middle of what is called the “Allegiance pledge” and the whole classroom became really silence and pledged allegiance to their country. I’ve also been there for the fourth of July and wow, so much blue, red and white everywhere! When I compare it to France…Well, we’re not very patriotic! x)

Anyway, back to our study!

This declarations was inspired by a great thinker:

John Locke:

He was a philosopher and was considered as one of the most important enlightened thinker. His ideas revolve around the theory of the State’s nature which is basically freedom and Happiness…He stated a country had the right to rebel if its government didn’t respect Human rights (That’s what he called the Social Contract) and that human being had several natural rights: Liberty,possession, the pursuit of Happiness, life…He also talked about the separation of the State and the Church.

He had a great influence on the declaration of Independence and many of his principles were kept.

 

(picture credit: RadoJavor – no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)

 

William Blake and his poem “London”: Short study

Hello (again) …

This article is actually a short biography of William Blake and a quick study of his poem “London”.

Who is William Blake?

William Blake was a British poet and illustrator who lived in the 18th century (before Dickens). His tormented drawings reflected his complex personality. He mainly used dark colors. In 1794 (in the midst of political and economical revolutions), he published his most famous books: “Songs of innocence” and “Songs of experience”. Through those books, the author wanted to show two contrasts in man-kind: on one side the “innocence” -which is the positive part- and on the other the “experience” -which is the (very) pessimistic part-.

In “Songs of experiences”, the main topics are urbanization, poverty, prostitution, social inequalities, the power of the state and church and child labor. Here’s a short study about Blake’s poem : “London” (which is part of the “Songs of experience”).

London:

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,

Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.

And mark in every face I meet

Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

—————————————–

In every cry of every Man,

In every Infants cry of fear,

In every voice: in every ban,

The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

—————————————–

How the Chimney-sweepers cry

Every blackning Church appalls,

And the hapless Soldiers sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls

—————————————–

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlots curse

Blasts the new-born Infants tear

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse

Main topics: poverty, prostitution, power of the church and state, child labor.

1) Who does the speaker talk about?

In this poem, men, children, chimney sweepers, soldiers and prostitutes are mentioned. All of them are in deep grief and seem helpless. Sorrow embraces their soul.

2) Which monuments are mentioned here? Who  do they represent? Why?

The author talks about the church : ” blackning Church appalls” representing the monks, priests and pope and the Buckingham Palace: ” Palace walls ” representing the royal family. Those two monuments symbolize the two dominant powers of the 18th century: the power of the church and the power of the state. They are evoked through allegories to  avoid censorship. Indeed, censorship was a very serious matter back then and there was a huge lack of liberty.

3) What image of London is given to us?

A very negative image of London is here displayed. As part of the “Songs of experience”, this poem expresses a lot of sadness, sorrow and despair. The atmosphere is very gloomy. London appears as a dark and dreadful city. We can really feel that the people are suffering. If London was “alive”, it would probably weep …

Some analysis elements:

  • “every” is repeated seven times. It concerns everyone except the royals, the religious cast and the aristocrats.
  • “charter’d” means “chart” (rules you must respect)
  • anaphora of “marks” : poor people are marked by sadness and compared to cattles
  • “cry” : shows the sadness of the people
  • “manacles” : lack of freedom, jail, censorship
  • Stanza 3 : Blake wanted people to start a revolution
  • “Marriage hearse” : A woman who was married was “imprisoned” for  life and then headed to the cimetery

That’s it for this short analysis…It’s not very joyful but we can really see the reality of life in the 18th century in London.

steamcity_by_natmonney-d45ydyv

(picture credit: NatMonney deviantart – no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)