The Lily of the Valley a virgin filled with virgin fancies: the Perversion Politicization of Sexuality in William BlakeBlake’s The Book of Thel Visions of theDaughters of Albion


  • Madison T. Harmon Department of English, North Carolina State University; Raleigh, NC, United States Author



William Blake, through a romantic framework, attempted to rewrite Biblical narratives and motifs as a way to comment on eighteenth-century gender, class, and sexual ideologies. However, scholarship is conflicted over whether Blake was truly an advocate for sexual liberation; one scholar points out that there are “four Blakes when it comes to his attitudes on sexuality, while another points out his repeated use of rape and violence sexual imagery. Blake’s systematic approach to unpacking sexuality and human desire manifests in a number of ways allegorically through the use of anthropomorphology, enslavement, political war and religiosity…but also through rape. Blake’s works, The Book of Thel and Visions of the Daughters of Albion, are prime examples of Blake’s political and ‘ambivalent position in regard to celebrating and exploring female sexuality. In addition, Blake uses religious imagery and rhetoric to foster his systematic and fluid attitude towards sexuality and gender
roles. Reading The Book of The l and Visions of the Daughters of Albion as sister texts allows for his progressive attitudes about the role of the woman, sexuality needing to be naturalized and the deconstruction of institutionalized religion. The two texts complement one another while also depicting Blake’s interest in the binary between innocence and experience.