William Blake in his poem The Sick Rose used the symbol of ‘Rose’ and ‘Worm’. Blake actually tells about a beautiful rose spoilt by an invisible worm. The poet uses rose and the worm as a symbol of purity and evil (corruption) respectively.
Rose as a Symbol
The poet gives a number of symbols in the name of rose.
• The rose is compared with a series of qualities – Rose is a Romantic symbol of love, innocence, beauty, purity, goodness and virtue etc.
• The rose stands for purity, innocence, beauty, ignorance, and so on, sometimes these symbols are contradictory.
•In The Sick Rose, the secrecy of love becomes a disease. The crimson joy’ suggests rose’s complicity both in passion and in secrecy. So the poet has compared sick love with sick rose.
• The rose is a symbol of love, which is destroyed by selfishness.
Worm as a Symbol
• The poet symbolizes worm with an evil spirit / force.
• The worm is also symbolising the corruption in our society.
• Blake is referring to an evil atmosphere with the symbol of worm.
• The worm symbolically presents Biblical serpent and it is the symbol of corruption, moral degradation and it is something that is a destroyer and an exploiter.
Night as a Symbol
• ‘ That flies in the night, / In the howling storm,’ –
Here night means evil, it may have the extension of dark conditions of the atmosphere because of corruption.
In fact there is no such worm as flying in the night or the howling storm. What Blake is implying may be that comely and seemly objects of beauty are gradually destroyed or sapped by some unknown evil forces.
In the conclusion, it is clear that symbols of rose and worm are two sides of a person or any society in which the existence of good and bad , innocence and experience co-exist as a uniformed state. The symbol of rose and worm manifest the same co-existence.
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