Summary after Church 1-7
After all this detail We can begin
our summary of Blake's theory of sex with Jesus' reply to the Sadducee's
mocking question about the woman married to seven husbands: "for when
they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in
marriage, but are as the angels which are in heaven. (Mark 12:23 and 25)"
Blake begins here,
with the assumption that sexual division relates to this world,
but not to Eternity. Sex appears in Beulah, a 'moony rest' from
the arduous creative activity of Eden. The "Female Will" condemns
Man to the loss of Eternity, which Blake calls "the Sleep of Ulro".
Sex, at its worst, signifies fallenness, and the jealous and proudly chaste female symbolizes the active principle of evil, also identified with a materialistic viewpoint whose values are coercion and love of power.
Blake's vision of Jesus humanized his theory of sex. He began to use the biblical image of Jerusalem as the bride of Christ; he named his last and greatest epic 'Jerusalem'; he was ultimately able to rationalize the heterodox doctrine of sex with the glorified female as the emanation of the Eternal Man. Blake's female thus joined all the rest of his personal images; traveling the Circle of Destiny, materializing in the Fall and etherealizing in the Return.
Through all his journey Blake had a characteristically liberal and enlightened view of womankind, an entirely different matter from the sexual symbolism that filled his pages. His true and abiding feelings about the relation between men and women appear early in his works in his "Annotations to Lavater":
"Let the men do their duty and the women will be such wonders; the female life lives from the light of the male: see a man's female dependants, you know the man." Admittedly short of the high standards of present day feminism, Blake's vision of womanhood considerably surpassed that of most of his contemporaries-- and perhaps most of ours.