Out of the Fog Came Life: A Stylistic Analysis of Dickens’s Bleak House

By Trudy A. Martinez

The imagery in Bleak House reveals a revelation of possibilities that petitions both a pessimistic and an optimistic existence. The beginning is the end. The end is the beginning of judgment. The words paint a picture, a warning of a possible end, giving a pessimistic view of that city coming into judgment. The four elements: earth, water, fire, and air that frame the beginning of the earth in the Holy Bible also frame the desolate beginning of Bleak House with its possible end. The middle links the beginning and the end through the characters representative of both good and evil who guide the societal participants at all levels of existence to their destination in life or death. In the end, the ending is a new beginning, mending a separation between man and woman, joining them in both love and marriage; this scene paints an optimistic view of a promise land free from destructive imagery.

Dickens inaugurates his imagery by using a verb style hypotaxis where the ranking is done for us while the all-knowing narrator informs the reader of any judgment lest we be guilty of judging. His play on words in the hypotaxis style creates an image of the beginning of the end with all of the four elements at work. For instance, the weather issues forth the mud, symbolizing corruption, where the “foot passengers . . . slipping and sliding” in and out of their faith add “new deposits” of “crust” to the earth. The retirement of the water (a symbol of the pure at heart ascending to Heaven) is seen “hanging in the misty clouds” protected from the fog that weaves in and out, spreading corruption everywhere at all levels of society and to all its classes, while at the same time, destroying the natural elements. The pure at heart are protected from the destruction and blindness created because they are housed within the structure of a prepositional phrase “as if they were up in a balloon.” Hovering above and “Peeping” down upon a pestilence in progress (Dickens 49). The fire issues forth its aftermath: the “smoke making a soft black drizzle with flakes of “soot” raining on and “mourning . . . for the death of the sun” (Dickens 49). The air, suffering from the effects of the death of the sun, produces a “haggard and unwilling look,” forming a gaseous appearance that looms “through the fog in divers places (Dickens 49)” toward those who are deserving of God’s judgment.

Period writers arm themselves with His judgment, prophesying the coming of the bridegroom who, ridding the earth of the “Megalosarus,” a dragon simulating the devil, brings about the death of the elements. Why else would “the two speechless gazers” after “justice was done” bend “themselves down to the earth, as if in prayer” in Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles? Were they not made aware of His presence? Was it just a coincidence that Adam’s occupation was a carpenter capable of winning over the priestess Dinah presented as if she was pure and innocence in Adam Bede or was it merely that the author, George Eliot’s vision blurred? I think not! After all, the all-knowing narrator allows her to confess in the novel, hinting of her defect and her judgment before God:

“The mirror is doubtless defective: the outlines will sometimes be disturbed, the reflection faint or confused; but I feel as much bound to tell you as precisely as I can what that refection is, as if I were in the witness-box, narrating my experience on oath (174).”

Others in the same period present and depict London in a similar light, exposing situations deserving of God’s judgment, while at the same time, teaching the eye to hear as if fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (Matthew 13:13-17) while focusing on the position of woman in society. For example, Blake’s central concern was the Infants cry, pointing to the sin of man as the reason for the Harlot’s curse we hear while he hears the Harlots (plural) curse (swear) because of the tear (separation) of the Infants tear from their rightful place. Blake teaches his reader to hear with their eyes through the transparent chiasmas he creates. Similarly, one must question whether the Harlot’s curse put upon Lady Deadlock in Bleak House is actually man’s curse for allowing and bringing about her separation from her child, Esther.

Mrs. Rouncewell announces that the sound of the Ghost’s Walk must be heard when she tells a child, “I am not sure it is dark enough yet, but listen! Can you hear the sound upon the terrace, through the music, and the beat, and everything? This sound she says, “You cannot shut it out” (Dickens 141). And then again one might ask how was the blind man in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary able to see Emma’s sin and rebuke her for it when he could only hear? Could it be he is a messenger sending forth a rebuke to all of us so that we will become aware of the writing on the wall and hear with our eyes the same beat and music being played for us by God Almighty from the break of His day? Although each instance centers in on a different aspect of woman’s existence, all communicate a need for change.

Bleak House calls to mind the sin of Eve and the need for the removal of false images before the sight of God. For instance, Esther’s aunt, her godmother, assumes the role of a god, issuing forth judgment when she says, “Your mother, Esther, is your disgrace, and you were hers” (Dickens 65). Further evidence of her role as a god is given through her paralleling herself to Christ: “I have forgiven her,” she said, “I, the sufferer” (Dickens 65). But only God in Heaven can truly forgive and Christ already paid with his life by suffering for our sins. Why then is Esther’s aunt taking on such a role? Why is Esther made to suffer at the hands of another and a woman at that?

In essence, Esther asks these questions herself when she reads the book of St. John to her aunt and exclaims, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her! (Dickens 66)” At this point, an abrupt switch from the verb style Esther reads from the Holy Bible to the noun style hypotaxis where the aunt’s role is cast within a different structure. Esther is “stopped by her godmother’s rising, putting her hand to her head, and crying out in an awful voice, from quite another part of the book . . . “ (Dickens 67). Here again, there is an abrupt change; this time to a verb style as she attempts to assume a different role, deceiving the child and freeing herself from her confinement. Unfortunately, the role she attempts to assume is that of a false god, using God’s words as her own, warning Esther of destruction: ‘ “Watch ye therefore! Lest . . . he find you sleeping” ‘(Dickens 67), and forgetting that God is an angry God and a jealous God; the aunt makes the mistake of overly extending her influence, and she unthinkingly spouts out: “And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch!” Consequently, God struck her down. He Judged her instantly.

At once, the verb style returns to a noun style when the aunt is spoken of by the naïve narrative of Esther, but the noun style works against its subject: Esther’s emotional plea to her aunt, the anaphora: I + kissed, [I] + thanked, and [I] + prayed, [I] + asked, [I] + [asked], [I] + entreated, failed because the aunt had over stepped her bounds by assuming the character of the antichrist and was, therefore, instantly judged.

Esther avoids an immediate judgment because she is still a child, investigating the choices available to her with the words of her aunt still ringing in her ears: “Pray daily that the sins of others be not visited upon your head, according to what is written” (Dickens 65). From this point, the novel becomes Esther’s bildungsroman as she moves from an unfavorable light toward a more favorable one. Just as Esther moves, the written word moves. For instance, noun style changes to a verb style, the hypotaxis style, where everything is determined for us, changes to a parataxis style where the choice is left up to us; and we are made able to link good to the bad as if administering a pill to cure its ills.

The change in Esther, just as the change in the written style of the words on the page, becomes apparent in Esther when she administers a pill to herself. Here, she stresses self-denial and a willingness to seek and discover the answers. The absence of prepositional phrases, the jailed structure that inhibits choice, highlights the change in the structure just as it highlights the change in Esther and favors her for her choice of thinking of others first:

“I don’t know how it is; I seem to be always writing about myself. I mean all the time to write about other people, and I try to think about myself as little as possible, and I am sure, when I find myself coming into the story again, I am really vexed and say, ‘Dear, dear, you tiresome little creature. I wish you wouldn’t!’ But it is all of no use (Dickens 163).”

It is of no use not speaking of Esther because speaking of Esther is the only way to reveal the methods and the formula for change and its reward or damnation. The others around her paint the picture of how things are going to be. For example, Mr. Skimpole is seen receiving his reward for his faith. The table was set for him: “There was honey on the table, and it led him into the discourses about the Bees. . . He protested against the overwhelming assumptions of bees.” The status the “busy bees” sold their souls for was given him by them. He stood firm and did not allow them to be a model. The station of the bees “was ridiculous:” a “position, to be smoked out of your fortune with brimstone” (Dickens 143).

Mr. Jarndyce guides Esther from the fire and smoke to discovery of the unknown and to her pleasure as if throwing water on her, baptizing her, and awakening her from a sleep. Esther tells us that the signs were “At first,” only “faintly discernible in the mists,” and acknowledges that “above them . . . later stars still glimmered” (Dickens 142). Is it just a coincidence that Esther is sent for and brought out of the mist “On the” very “day, after” her false image, the “poor good god mother, “the antichrist, “was buried,” and “the gentlemen in black with the white neckcloth reappeared,” announcing: “My name is Kenge . . . you may remember it, my child; Kenge and Carboy, Lincoln’s Inn?”(Dickens 67).

Does he not call to mind one holding the balances in his hand? He sure appears so on the page for Kenge first appears in the noun style and then abruptly switches to the verb style when he speaks. It stands to reason that just after Jarndyce announces “that Boythorn,” who was “the loudest boy in the world, and now the loudest man”, was coming down on a visit that he and his guests “observed the favorable omen” (Dickens 166). The opposite occurs on page 66 when the one that was, the god-MOTHER OF HARLOTS is struck down after trying to steal the thunder of the words of THE KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

We are told by Boythorn, “We have been misdirected” by “the most intolerable scoundrel on the face of the earth” (Dickens 166). Mr. Boythorn asks, “Is there anything for me from your men, Kenge and Carboy?” after he identifies Sir Leicester as Sir Lucifer and “calls attention to” the controversy of trespass., concerning “the green pathway” that Sir Leicester claims right away to but that is “now the property of Mr. Lawrence Boythorn”(Dickens 166-170). Did not he state: “No closing of my path, by any Deadlock!”

In contrast, Richard, thinking only of himself, “one of the most restless creatures in the world” takes a different route: He goes from what is considered a favorable light to an unfavorable one. Richard stresses self-love and a willingness to accept a different calling: “. . . The inclination of his childhood for the sea” (Dickens 163-164). Unlike Esther, Richard’s speech moves from a verb style to noun style. For example, Richard says: “So, cousin . . . We are never to get out of Chancery!” And the style abruptly changes to a noun style as he continues to say: “We have come by another way to our place of meeting yesterday, and – by the Great Seal, here’s the old lady again!”(Dickens 97) His choice was that of the easy way out as if he could change the direction the wind blows.

Finding that he has to work for his place, he places his confidence in the world whose outward appearance of luxury and fashion veils the inward corruption. The same becomes his religion and the High Lord Chancellor becomes his idol. This is evidenced when he confides in Esther:

“So I apprehend it’s pretty clear . . . that I shall have to work my own way. Never mind! Plenty of people have had to do that before now, and have done it. I only wish I had the command of a clipping privateer, to begin with, and could carry off the Chancellor and keep him on short allowance until he gave judgment in our cause. He’d find himself growing thin, if he didn’t look sharp! (Dickens 164)”

Hence, Richard becomes the kindling that fuels the wheels of corruption, thinking his dream of success lies just around the next turn as the wheels forever grind him further down toward his desolate destination of destruction and death. For example, his guide toward destruction, Mr. Vholes issues forth all manners of lies, eating upon Richard’s very flesh as if he were a cannibal (Dickens 605). And then again, he listened to the wrong voices when Mr. Vholes says, “A good deal is doing, sir. We have to put our shoulders to the wheel, Mr. Carstone, and the wheel is going round” (Dickens 607):

“I ought to imitate you, in fact, Mr. Vholes? Says Richard, sitting down again with an impatient laugh, and beating the Devil’s Tattoo with his boot on the patternless carpet” (Dickens 607).

In the beginning of the end, all the pestilence that was weaving through the streets in the fog was directed toward “the Lord High Chancellor” who having:

“A foggy glory round his head, softly fenced in with crimson cloth and curtains . . . outwardly directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof, where he can see nothing but fog” (Dickens 50),

Let his house become desolate and unworthy of praise.

Quite the opposite of the Chancellor, Mr. John Jarndyce who converts his inheritance of a Bleak House left to him by his ancestors to a house of beauty by ridding the inside of its corruption of dirt with the application of a little water as if sent from God to bear witness of Truth.

Jarndyce compares the likeness of the former state of Bleak House to that city, burning in brimstone and the House built to fulfill the bridegroom’s coming, a promise, to the bride (earth). For what other reason would everyone at Bleak House view Mr. Boythorn’s coming as “the favorable omen,” confirming Jarndyce’s role as the Baptist when he says, “Now, will you come upstairs” and Boythorn answers:

“By my soul, Jarndyce, . . . if you had been married, I would have turned back at the garden-gate . . .I wouldn’t be guilty of the audacious insolence of keeping a lady [bride] of the house waiting all this time, for any earthly consideration. I would infinitely rather destroy myself – infinitely rather! (Dickens 166-168).”

The end is left for the reader to decide whether it is a new beginning or an actual judgment of earth. Jarndyce sums it up:

“I have never lost my old names, nor has he lost his; nor do I ever when he is with us, sit in any other place than in my old chair at his side. Dame Trot, Dame Durden, Little Woman! – all just the same as ever; and [Esther] answer[s], Yes, dear Guardian! Just the same . . . (Dickens 934).”

The hypotaxis style changes to a parataxis verb style on page 892, leaving the reader to interpret how to avoid judgment by linking back the participants in the society to see where each went wrong.

An Unspoken Message of Fear by Trudy A. Martinez: An Analysis of Carolyn Forche’s Poem “The Colonel”

An Unspoken Message of Fear:An Analysis of Carolyn Forche’s Poem, “The Colonel” by Trudy A. Martinez

Posted on December 13, 2006 by gramatrudy

Articles presenting psychological conjectures and theory appear in the Los Angeles Times over the years implying that the American society may be at fault for the deterioration of certain segments of the population. In addition, some publicity centered on the unnecessary beating of a black man appears to relate and substantiate the psychologist findings. Since the highly publicize beating, a connecting bond of black law enforcement officers came forward to complain and present possible testimony of their unjust treatment within the police department. The black officers say symbolism such as the “KKK” and white supremacy groups use serve as important determinants, leaving them with an unspoken message of fear from retaliation.

A similar unspoken message of fear is symbolized in the Carolyn Forche’s poem, “The Colonel”. The symbols in the poem plays a consequential role in understanding in what appears to be the poem’s intended theme as the theme loops in a chain like construction of symbols that combine a pattern of discrimination and leave a mark upon the aggressor in the form of an unspoken message of fear.

The importance of the characterizations reinforcing the chain like theme may be seen through the continual linkage of token symbols, creating a fearful atmosphere. The apprehensive environment that develops formulates through the significance of the descriptive setting in the Colonel’s home. For instance, a gun lay on the cushion beside the Colonel while he watches a “cop show”; “broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house”; and “the windows . . . [had] . . . gratings [on them] like those [used at] . . . liquor stores” (props design and carefully link together to keep the contents and occupants safe from unwanted intruders). Within the surroundings, similar symbolic considerations are recognizable that distinguish the nationality, status, and the unspoken fear of the Colonel and his family.

The factors that encourage recognition and assist in securing Forche’s propose of emphasizing a family of elements is inserted by the author’s clarifying statement that the cop show “was in English” and gains strength by the colonel’s “wife [taking] everything away” following a “brief commercial in Spanish”. The “. . . gold bell [that adorned the table like a charm on a bracelet] was . . . for calling the maid”. The gold bell stresses status and suggests dominance.

Dominance underscores and repeatedly portrays through the discussion “of how difficult it had become to govern” and by the “colonel [telling his parrot] to shut up after the parrot merely sang a polite greeting of “hello”. The ring of verbal abuse ushers in violence through the action of the colonel when he “pushed himself from the table’. The colonel’s abrupt forceful movements weigh and anchor a chain of unspoken fears that suddenly support the speaker when the eyes of the speaker’s friend say, “say nothing”.

By saying nothing, the unspoken fear unites, and coerce, and emerges as a triumphant acknowledgement, glimmering among the colonel’s collection of “dried . . . human ears’. The sequence is broken when the colonel’s indignation singles out one ear from the others, confronts it, and agitates it.

The ear, similar to a dangling charm glimmering in a bright light, comes to life as it drinks up the colonel’s demoralizing statements. The dejecting assertions spring forth, resembling the knife that strips the ears from their rightful place, through the savagery combination of their meaning, provoking the necessity of their continuance in a chain of unspoken messages of fear.

The Rejected Cry: A Stylistic Analysis of Blake’s London by Trudy A. Martinez

The Rejected Cry:  A Stylistic Analysis of Blake’s London  By Trudy A. Martinez 

Blake reveals the inner logic (the logos) of his poem London, first through the artistic arrangement of his plate (see figure 1 below).  Here a child is seen in a path of light guiding an old man toward a door as if he were blind, lost, and in need of assistance.  And then, in keeping with this illustrated theme (together with placement, usage, and meaning), Blake etches and imprints a portrait of a society and invites the reader to see London (figure 2) through his eyes.  In his quest, he leads the reader’s eye toward sight like a blind man toward what can not be seen but only heard.  In the process, he establishes a society of man, paralleling what is heard to what is seen and visible through symbolic color imagery, thus creating a sense of balance.  But then, he abruptly takes away the sense of balance, leaving the reader discerning for himself while emotionally groping like a blind man for the key to the structure and questioning why did this happen?
The emotional appeal (the ethos) takes form with the formation of a hypotaxis that “lets us know . . . what derives from what” (Lanham 33), while at the same time, sets a play on words in motion; this is best illustrated by the Placement and Usage Chart (figure 3).  Even though parts of speech are assigned each word, some words lack a sincere devotion to that particular assignment and induce the meaning of another.  For instance, the form of the last word (ban) in the string of prepositional phrases is that of a verb but used as a noun in context.  The effect prohibits the placement of the subject on the same level of existence, consciousness, or development.  According to Lanham with the development of “a hypotactic style,” you are encouraged “to read from top to bottom as well as from left to right”(44).  Every right column “top-to-bottom reading represents a rank” of society in descending order while each left-to-right reading of the right column represents “a movement down from one rank to another” (Lanham 44).  For instance, “the charter’d streets” symbolizes the upper-class who own the land where “charter’d” action takes place, earning them their place at the top.  The deviant usage of the word, charter’d ( a verb out of context used as an adjective in context), “heightens awareness and understanding” (Chapman 27), bringing a sense of action to the descriptive.  Repetition intensifies meaning and petitions dual significance.  When industry engages the “charter’d Thames” and transports goods for a stipulated price, they pay very little for labor requirements.  Consequently, the string of prepositional phrases, representing the various levels of the middle class and working class, reflect “marks of weakness [and] marks of woe” that mirror their suffering.  The dual usage of the word mark emphasizes the narrator’s ability to see the consequential outcome of the situation.
“The left column, read by itself top-to-bottom, establishes the top-ranking basic assertion” (Lanham 44) made by the narrator.  The anaphora: I + wander, (I) + mark, I + meet, I + hear represents the narrator’s path through London which builds the structure of the poem, linking both the stanzas and the societal participants together, while at the same time, expressing what is seen “in every face” and heard in the voice “of every man” who accepts the prevailing customs that produces the “Infants tear.”  A pun is intended on tear because a tear (separation) has occurred that separates the participants (a child from both parents) and makes them (the mother and child) undeserving of voice through “every ban,” keeping them oppressed and barred from acceptance.  Hence, “mind-forg’d manacles” prevents upward movement.
The lower-class, positioned at the bottom left of the chart, are held down beneath the weight of their affliction by “the mind-forg’d manacles.”  Influences or “specific details” that affect their part of the structured society are represented to the right of their position.  For instance, the unfortunate Soldiers, who may have lost their limbs in the service of their country, can be seen as losing favor in the eyes of the government since no action (or action word (Verb)) describes the cause of their sigh.  Instead, they are the recipients of “Runs” in blood.”  Here again, the word “runs” lacks a sincere devotion to a particular part of speech.  In other words, “runs” as a noun implies a freedom of movement of a continuous series in uninterrupted course of events from one point to another; whereas, as a verb the meaning takes a different direction and becomes converted to a liquid state as if a pursuit of a different subject (blood) with the purpose to deprive the meaning of life because of the object’s (Palace) refusal to admit an injustice.   However, in keeping with the hypotaxis style, the word is a noun that demonstrates that there are two levels of existence, consciousness, and development apparent in the presentation.  Runs as a subject has a predicate (down) that states firmly, positively, and assuredly, multiple meanings exist because of its capability of assuming multiple roles within a sentence (see figure 4).  Together Runs and down trace the source of the affliction brought upon the Soldiers as a result of their being forgotten and left to die on the streets of London.
Since Blake wandered the streets of London, he came to see and he came to know the destructive nature of this society.  Blake has a true gift of recognizing, describing, and establishing blame using symbols.  His description of pain and suffering are open and recognizable, whereas when he places blame for wrongful actions, he does so using symbols as if to say, I am not the judge, but I cannot close my eyes to the apparent injustice I view.  I believe Blake wrote this poem to shed light ( for us, his reader’s) on his subjects, i.e., the chimney sweepers, soldiers, and Infants, by bringing knowledge of their circumstances through his poem.  Consequently, he is capable of leading the reader’s eye as if he were blind toward what can not be seen but only heard and toward the objects (the Palace, the Church, and the tear) of his play with words.
A switch from the verb style to the noun style  (stasis) exposes his objective word play.  A monotonous rhythm  (sounding) almost like a funeral march (figure 5)) builds up within the first stanza and leads into the second.  Here, the noun strategy, a string of prepositional phrases (isocolons), suggests non-responsibility and works against its subject, creating a syntactic democracy, while at the same time, exposing an unusual pattern that creates ambiguity but yet, elicits understanding:
In   every             face        P + Adj + N
   of              weakness        P +  N
   of                      woe         P +  N
In   every              cry         P + Adj + N  (N with action verb implications)
   of every             man       P + Adj + N
In   every Infants cry         P + Adj + Adj  + N (Adj and N with subject
                                                                         and action Verb implications)
   of                      fear         P +  N
In   every          voice          P +  Adj + N
In   every             ban         P  + Adj + N (N with action verb implications)
In                       blood         P +  N
The pattern’s effect highlights the P + Adj + Adj + N scheme as the central concern.  The break in design manufactures the necessity to question:  What is “In every Infants cry” doing in the structured society of man?  Both the design and the words inspire confusion.  For example, Infants is presented as a plural proper noun, symbolized by capitalization and the absence of an apostrophe.  As a result, the effect disorientates the reader’s thought process and formulates a desire to add an apostrophe.
Is the reader given a license to play with the standard punctuation:  period, comma, colon, and semi-colon?  Was the person copying the manuscript to the plates given the freedom to choose or determine which punctuation was used?  The rules of English grammar were not as clear then as they are today; this is evidenced by the various plates (see figure 1, 5, and 6).  Although the plates may appear the same, with close observation, the differences become apparent.  For instance in figure 1, the old man and the boy are in the path of a narrow stream of light directed downward upon them; whereas in figure 5 and 6,  the lighting deviates.  The charactery of the child sitting by a fire highlights the dissimilarity of figure 5 and 6.  The contrast of punctuation is the least obvious variation between all the plates.  Still, the fluctuating punctuation does exist and hints of a desire to give the reader some freedom in their quest for understanding.  However, adding an apostrophe deletes the narrator’s voice and therefore, is not a plausible option.
Nevertheless, the desire to change the part of speech to an adjective by adding an apostrophe so that Infants  will appear to fit in and coincide with what is heard remains.  But this is against the rule; the rules of English accentuate the message.  So if we can not change the usage of the word, we must question to gain understanding.  If Infants is a noun out of context, it rightfully follows cry is a verb.  However, “Infants cry” is housed in a jailed structure (preposition phrase: P + Adj + Adj + N) that doesn’t measure up to its need.  Hence, “every Infants cry, ” an adjective describing a sin of society, is demanding release through the printed word yet, inhibited liberation by the jailed structure (the preparation phrase).  An auditory quality, the pronounced possessive (what is heard), lacks the power to emancipate.
Nonetheless, the stifling effect of imprisonment creates a plea that screams for proper placement (noun and verb position) within the structure of the sentence just as “Infants [would] cry” for reconcilement to their proper place within the structure of society.  The prepositional phrase immediately preceding and following lack restriction and are properly sequenced: P + Adj +N.  However, the next two phrases (P + Adj + N (with  action verb implications)) that proceed upward and downward from the center of the column, even though they are in proper sequence and correct, have words occupying the object position that advocate versatility through the possibility of action in the content of a sentence.  But the string of phrases works against their subject, therefore opposing actual movement by their structure.  Consequently, they are shown in opposition to each other on the chart (figure 3).  Consonance, alliterations, and inner rhymes bring the attention back to the narrator.
With the third stanza, there is an abrupt change back to the verb style where an asyndetic pattern slows down the narrative and splashes color upon the scene, turning parallelism into a mirror that connects the phonological quality the reader hears and the graphological quality the narrator hears to what is seen through the addition of colors, suggesting and bringing about a consequential pattern of balance and a feeling that this happens because of this or because of this this happens.
However, the sense of balance and connections is quickly lost when the fourth stanza takes an abrupt turn with “But most” to the parataxis verb style, relinquishing the ranking of “what derives what from what” to the reader.  The unbalanced nature creates a pathetic plea (the pathos).  Consequently, a play on words:  a duel between the phonological and the graphological, a duel between the rhetoric and the linguistic, and a duel between meanings creates a need to question Blake’s word choice and creates a desire to resolve and stabilize the uncertainty.
According to Chapman, the desire to resolve prompts the reader to respond to the “paradigmatic deviance” in a way established by his reactions “to the defeat of regular linguistic expectations” (69-70).  He goes on to add
“It is necessary to consider the force of the chosen word in relation to other possibilities . . . which might be considered more likely;  also whether meaning is heightened or blurred by the deviation:
But most through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born infant’s tear
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse (Chapman 69-70).
But is the meaning as derived above really the most likely possibility?  What meaning is heightened?  What meaning is blurred?  Blake emphasizes what he hears holds the greatest significance through the repetitive “I hear:”   this emphasis reminds the reader what Blake hears (the plural) and what the reader hears (the possessive) are not the same.   The graphological (the written word) represents what Blake hears (the plural), whereas, the phonological (the spoken word) represents what the reader hears (the possessive).  By using a graphological deviant (see examples in figure 4), Blake creates a transparent chiasmas (not immediately apparent) that takes on dual meaning and dual significance.  True, Blake leaves the reader discerning for himself whether to hear or see or to hear and see while perceiving the reasons for the harsh tones created by the alliterations, consonance, assonance. 
But he maintains hope that the reader will resolve any misgivings and link what he hears to the “Infants cry” in the second stanza.
The rejected “Infants cry” is the key that unlocks and releases the parallel action of the society described through the written word with the structure built from the placement of the words.  Blake hears the (plural) Harlots curse (swear) as evidenced by his earlier version of the last stanza:
But most the midnight harlots curse
From every dismal street I hear.
Weaves around the marriage hearse
And blasts the new-born infants tear.
However, in the most current version (figure 2), we hear the (possessive) Harlot’s curse.  Consequently, we are left deprived of complete understanding.
But with the knowledge of the dual forces at work here both heightening and blurring meaning and contributing to the deprived state, the veil is lifted.   Blake lets the reader know what must be known.  The reader has to wrestle with his conscious and mentally force himself to seek and find the resolution.  To gain comprehension, the reader has to turn the key on the parataxis verb style, unlock the jailed structures, and rid them of fear, so that the tear (separation) can mend and the rejected cry heard (by the fathers in the working class) and the tear (shed by the infant in the lower class) may unite (and be given rightful placement within the society, thus mending the tear).  Consequently, the poem’s effect on the whole calls up the Holy scripture:  Matthew 13:13-17 (figure 8) as if to bless the reader for correcting the inadequacy in the society by joining the end and inner rhymes in the last stanza to the second stanza.
-Trudy Martinez-