Comment on the use of William Blake's poetry in Skellig to build atmosphere.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The poetry of William Blake is certainly something that adds greatly to the atmosphere of this brilliant novel, and in particular helps us to understand the kind of situation that Michael faces and comments upon education and discovery. If we look at the first allusion to Blake, for example, we see it comes in Chapter Fifteen and is when Mina and Michael are talking about education and how Mina is educated at home. Note what Mina says about being taught at home:

We believe that schools inhibit the natural curiosity, creativity and intelligence of children. The mind needs to be opened out into the world, not shuttered down inside a gloomy classroom.

The quotes that follow come from Blake's poem, "The School-Boy," which is a proclamation of the joy in life and an attack against school as something that shuts and locks students away from the outside world. As Mina quotes, "How can a bird that is born for joy / Sit in a cage and sing?"

Again and again, Blake's poems and his emphasis on the need for freedom from restraint and how societal forces imprison and crush us are used to suggest and establish the various ways in which Michael suffers similar experiences from his world, and his struggle to break out.

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