Milton, Plate 25, (E 121)
"The Elect is one Class: You
Shall bind them separate: they cannot Believe in Eternal Life
Except by Miracle & a New Birth. The other two Classes;
The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemed,
Who live in doubts & fears, perpetually tormented by the Elect".
Blake in his characteristic way, uses familiar words in unfamiliar ways. He take three words from religion: Elect, Redeemed and Reprobate, and redefines them to make us reconsider how God relates to man and how man's psyche functions.
The Elect whom we think of as the chosen who have won God's approval become those who
"cannot Believe in Eternal Life
Except by Miracle & a New Birth".
The Reprobate whom we think of as failures and outcasts become those "who never cease to Believe."
The Redeemed whom we think of as knowing that they have been forgiven for their sins become those "Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect."
When I try to connect the Three Classes of Men with aspects of the psyche, this is what I see.
The Elect wants to preserve the status quo. The Elect can be equated with the Ego which has charge of the personality, negotiating among the Id, the Superego and the reality principle. The Ego is the boss and decides how to express the personality. (The self-appointed Top Dog.)
The Reprobate are the outsiders, the aspects of the personality which are unrecognized or unacceptable. The Reprobate is parallel to the Shadow in Jung which contains whatever the Ego has rejected and denies expression to. The Shadow contains undiscovered but valuable material.
The expanding or awakening consciousness which is the true human, sometimes referred to as the Identity by Blake, or the Self by Jung, is the Redeemed. The Self connects the Ego, the Shadow and the collective unconscious. The Identity connects Albion, the wholeness of the individual, with Eternal wholeness. The process of developing the Self or the Identity is a long struggle of gradually bringing to light hidden material and realigning internal and external relationships.
The psychological approach to studying Blake asks us to look within for congruence between Blake's ideas and the dynamics of our psyches. Blake's myths and images can reveal to us aspects of ourselves; our self-understanding can enrich our reading of Blake.
Ego, Self, or Shadow?
There is more about the Three Classes of Men on another blog post.