Blake’s Prophetic Psychology by Brenda Webster

By Brenda Webster

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These fantasies of devouring the mother occur within a larger structure determined by fantasies of Oedipal conflict: Tiriel's sons have rebelled against their father and cast him out. Blake's illustration of the sons being cursed (lUus. 1 - G. E. Bentley's plate J) merges symbols of orality with ideas of Oedipal crime. The plate shows a struggle with feelings of guilt denied by the text. The stiff figures of the sons seem passive, as Bentley notes, rather than boldly rebellious, III us. 1 Tiriel: Tiriel Supporting Myratana 34 Blake's Prophetic Psychology and their frozen positions further suggest the immobilising presence of opposing impulses of attack and restraint.

In any event, Tiriel moves back from being the father to his own past in the vale of his father Har. Though Blake gives no reason for Tiriel's seeking out his father after cursing his sons, the two actions are dynamically connected: Tiriel's cursing both arouses a need for forgiveness and reminds him of his father's reaction to his own rebellion. Blake's perspective shifts between seeing Tiriel as a harsh agent of justice and as a self- 'Tiriel' and 'Thel': Forms of Devouring and Self-sacrifice 35 doubting seeker for a sense of justification.

1 5 He introduced Blake to his own patroness, Mrs Matthew, and helped to publish Blake's Poetical Sketches in 1783. Flaxman obtained a commission for Blake from Mr Hawkins. In April 1784 he wrote to his new friend, Hayley, praising Blake and adding that Mr Hawkins was raising a subscription to send Blake to Rome to study. Although in fact it was Flaxman who went abroad, he was obviously a real friend, going beyond words of friendship to energetic support of Blake. Blake's portrayal of Flaxman is fuller than most of the others and is particularly interesting because it shows Blake's mixed feelings toward someone taking the role of elder brother or father.

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