Mention of the term nature conjures many images in the minds of contemporary readers. Some picture the robed, ivy-crowned beauty of Mother Nature. Some consider the fields and forests of Whitman. The idea here in question is the nature of man—the state in which he is born—that of innocence, and society's effect on this state. The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, and the Case Study of Katharina by Sigmund Freud present strong concepts of the natural state of humanity and the placement of man in a society that curbs his natural tendencies.
[...] He relied on poetic and spiritual meditation to provide compensation for the loss of childhood and reflected on the divinity of childhood. Blake's ultimate belief was that lost innocence can be reclaimed through poetical metaphysics, despite the adversity of man's society. The work of Sigmund Freud is widely considered logical, though it cannot be proven, scientifically. His writings and practices are the basis for modern psychology, and case studies, like that of Katharina, provide an in-depth look into his philosophies on the subject of the natural state of man. [...]
[...] Society's interference between man and nature is again the deciding factor in man's innocence (ultimately, his lack thereof), and this makes the relationship of man and nature, in Blake's voice, a problematic one. Mallory Sweeney, a journalist, writes of Blake: [His] belief that all human life begins happy and free, but society eventually channels us into a form and puts restrictions on us--more specifically on children. Any child naturally gravitates toward the pleasurable, but in order to fit into the construct of society we have created we must put restrictions on them (Sweeney). [...]
[...] Alongside the loss of one aspect of man's natural state, Rousseau addresses nature, in the physical sense, almost as a replacement for the Judeo-Christian idea of G-d. The Columbia Encyclopedia's entry on Rousseau and his Confessions states, [T]he Confessions transfer to the domain of literature Rousseau's longing for a closeness with nature. His sensitive awareness apprehended the subtle influences of landscape, trees, water, birds, and other aspects of nature on the shifting state of the human soul” The Columbia Encyclopedia). [...]
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