It is has been well established that Blake’s poetic genius attempts to get us out of our Urizen state, and ultimately reach that state of Los. In Blake’s annotations of Watson’s “Apology for the Bible” he reinforces that idea by claiming that “Our judgement of right & wrong is Reason” (Blake, 456). Thomas Paine seems to align with Blake’s belief that our reason is what prevents us from progressing. In Paine’s “The Age of Reason”, he makes radical claims toward the form of government, and the ways in which it ultimately limits a society.

“…therefore all such clauses, acts, or declerations by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do—nor the power to execute—are in themselves null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself…” (Paine, 25). 

Paine essentially is against the ways in which government forms laws because it takes away people’s freedom. This reminded me a lot of a particular passage of Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake says, “I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning” (Blake, 79). My interpretation of this reflecting back on Paine’s radical claims on government, was that the Angels in this case are those in power (political figures, bishops, etc) because they believe the laws and beliefs they force upon society are the “right” way thus, making them feel entitled or the most wise. However as we now know, it is these “wise men” and reason that restricts society to feel “free to act for itself…”, instead society acts according to what those “wise men” tell them.

In terms of the French Revolution those people who destroyed the Bastille, and demanded change, as well as the head of King Louis XVI, acted upon their own judgment and will, completely defying the rule of the monarchy. In other words, they were sick and tired of those “wise men” so they did something about it. Power to the people!

C8B393B2-6C6B-4A73-ABA0-C380D8DD2B65.jpeg(Blake, 79).

The image above I felt really represents those “wise men” crushing societies’ ability to prosper. I wish I found one that depicted a representation when society finally acts for themselves.

-Kimberly Martinez-Melchor