Study Guide

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell A Memorable Fancy (5)

By William Blake

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A Memorable Fancy (5)

  • In the final "Memorable Fancy," the speaker tells us about a devil he once saw.
  • The demon dude rose up before an angel and told the angel that the way to worship God is to honor the gifts and talents that God has given to others.
  • To love God is to love "the greatest men best" (8.1).
  • The angel freaks out for a second at this idea, then replies that Jesus Christ is the greatest man and so is worthy of this honor.
  • Now it's the devil's turn to pipe up. He says that, if Jesus is the greatest, then, yes, he should be properly loved.
  • However, the devil's not done with this speech. He goes on to point out several examples of how Jesus broke the ten commandments, and so he concludes with the notion that you can't have virtue without breaking the commandments.
  • Jesus, says the devil, was a man of virtue because he was a man of impulse. He wasn't a stickler for the rules.
  • The angel is convinced by the devil, so he throws up his hands and is changed into a devil on the spot—neat trick.
  • We then learn that this angel was formerly—wait for it—Elijah (8.4).
  • We also learn that, after he converted to devil-dom, this ex-angel is "my particular friend" (8.5). Given that language, then, we can assume that the devil in this story was actually the speaker all along—tricky, fella, very tricky.
  • Elijah-devil and speaker-devil hang out together, reading the Bible "in its infernal or diabolical sense" (8.6). In other words, they have their own interpretation of the Good Book.
  • The speaker concludes the section with a tease: the world will get this infernal take on the Bible if it behaves. Mind your P's and Q's, world.
  • No, never mind—our speaker is just kidding. You're going to get this book whether you like it or not.
  • The speaker concludes with a reminder about greatness: "One law for the lion and ox is Oppression" (8.7). In other words, it doesn't make sense to hold everyone accountable to the same rules. This gets back to the earlier point about the importance of honoring "great men."

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