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Human Abstract : One Man 's Attempt At Encapsulating The Human Condition

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Kim Elliott
English 226
Prof. Tiffany
28. Oct. 2015

The Human Abstract: One Man’s Attempt at Encapsulating the Human Condition

William Blake’s “The Human Abstract” is a work that is trying to grasp the overall concept of humanity: how all people are connected through baser instincts. It is trying to create a map of human behavior and patterns, a broad, overall encompassment of what people act like: cruelty, mercy, fear, and love are not limited by class or status. Furthermore, Blake’s use of the word “abstract” is very clever, as human beings are the only creatures to possess mercy, cruelty, and the like -- they are human creations, fluid and ever-changing, and through that, abstract. Blake uses this concept as a basis for his poem, building upon which interpretation the reader chooses to take, keeping his poem decidedly graspable but at the same time untouchable: therefore, the poem stays true to its title and remains abstract. The poem is composed of six quatrains, and each of these has two rhyming couplets. Each couplet represents a new idea and concept: they are short and blunt, and Blake utilizes unflinching diction to declare his point. The poem does not have many enjambed lines, and most of the lines are end-stopped. Because of the word choice, the couplets, and the end-stopped lines, the poem has a decidedly cynical and bitter feeling -- in Blake’s mind, this poem is the way humanity is. There is no arguing his points away, because he speaks the truth: “The Human
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