This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Sexual Innocence Essay

1870 words - 7 pages

Sexual innocence is something that people often associate with the period of childhood. We are bombarded daily with images of children portrayed in the media as being 'innocent'; but to what extent does this concept imply sexual innocence? Some would argue that sexual innocence in childhood, in fact, does not exist.Childhood InnocenceIdeas about childhood innocence have long been expressed throughout history. For example, in the late eighteenth century, William Blake wrote a poem entitled 'Infant Joy' (Blake, 1789). In it, he portrays its subject (a baby) as innocent by using language such as 'happy' and 'sweet' (Blake, cited in chp. 6, p. 225). These terms have become synonymous with Western ideas about childhood, in particular, with relation to very young children. In stark contrast however, writing four years later, Blake's subsequent poem 'Infant Sorrow' (1793) portrays babyhood as a dramatically different period of time. Language such as 'dangerous' and 'fiend' suggest that childhood can be troublesome not only for the child, but also for its parents. The poems, part of a series, seem to suggest that life experiences can, and indeed do, change as we grow, from a period of innocence to one which is quite different.Writing some time later in the mid-nineteenth century, social commentator Henry Mayhew, documented his observations of the lives of working-class people living in London. He wrote of the dire conditions that these people had to contend with on a daily basis. In particular, he wrote a piece about a young girl, only 8 years old, whose life experiences were extremely limited (Mayhew, 1861). The girl spent her days walking the streets of London selling watercress. Mayhew talked to the girl, who expressed limited, if any, knowledge of what he took for granted as childhood pastimes. He remarked on how she "had entirely lost all childish ways" (Mayhew, cited on p. 228). His expectations of childhood were being challenged by what he saw, assuming that it should be a period of time when children were not subjected to things generally associated with adulthood, for example, work. The life experiences of the 'Watercress girl', in his eyes, were having a detrimental effect on her. Mayhew therefore, viewed childhood as a time of innocence, and as such found these images difficult to comprehend.The concept of innocence is also prevalent in today's contemporary culture. Looking at video 1, band 3: 'Representations of Childhood' (226-346), it is clearly evident that the producers of the advertisement for Evian water claim childhood as a time of innocence, by portraying their particular brand of water as 'pure' like the images of the babies shown (256-67). Likewise, in order to sell cars, the manufacturer Peugeot cleverly uses the image of a little girl in need of 'protection' from many of life's dangers (239-55), which again, portrays childhood as a time of innocence. Commentator Lloyd Hutchinson himself remarks on how the children seem to be...

Find Another Essay On Sexual Innocence

The Deterioration of Childhood Innocence due to Media and Consumerism

1916 words - 8 pages claims that “Locke’s tabula rasa created a sense of guilt in parents about their children’s development, and provided the psychological and epistemological grounds for making the careful nurturing of children a national priority,” (57). In modern days, the idea of childhood innocence is “one that defines childhood, in part, by claiming for it the need to be sheltered from adult secrets, particularly sexual secrets,” (Postman 9). Childhood innocence is

Ensuring a Safe Childhood: Sexual Education

1043 words - 5 pages ; reiterating the urgency to educate the population, in particular the caretakers of young children, regarding the sexual abuse topic (Raising Awareness About Sexual Abuse 1). However, as much as caregivers and parents wish to protect children from the horrors of molestation, the idea of speaking with them about sexual abuse is a scary thought; it has been reported that many parents feel as if the purity of the child’s innocence is being

Discuss the idea of innocence and experience in Mansfield’s work

1452 words - 6 pages Discuss the idea of innocence and experience in Mansfield’s work. The ideas of innocence and experience are frequent themes that come up in Mansfield’s stories. These ideas often come across in themes such as loss of sexual innocence – ‘The Little Governess’; loss of innocence through awareness of mortality and death – ‘The Garden Party’, ‘Her First Ball’. Themes of aging and gaining of experience as time passes are also suggested. The

"The Lady of Shalott": A Fallen Woman - Lee University- British Literature - Literary Analysis

1125 words - 5 pages used as a protector in order to keep her isolated from the outside world. It keeps the Lady of Shalott innocent. In regards to a fallen woman, she becomes fallen when she has lost her innocence in the form of sexual experience. Just like the fallen woman has lost her chastity to desire, so has the Lady of Shalott. The curse that kept her bound to the tower, to her innocence, is the chastity of this fallen woman. She, in the end, loses her

Catcher Abuse

581 words - 2 pages ," not only frightened Holden, but also resurfaced all his unexpressed emotions of his victimizing.Holden has always displayed a sense of aggression towards people he's referred to as phony. He immediately started a fight with Stradlater after Stradlater had told him about his date with Sally. This aggressiveness towards individuals can be also traced back to his sexual abuse as a child. Since his innocence had been taken away from him at such a


2327 words - 10 pages article “Age of Innocence”, parents started a protest against companies who advertise sexual imagery to the extreme (8-9). They argue that the sexual imagery in advertisement is taking the “innocence” away from their children. There is age for everything, and kids are getting exposed to sexual content to early in life. As a parent, it is hard to control what their kids see and hear. The parents feel they cannot walk around freely because sexual imagery

Ode On A Grecin Urn

1304 words - 5 pages , and she be fair!”(Keats) These lines simply mean that the youth, though he can never kiss his lover because he is frozen in time, he should not grieve, because her beauty will never fade. The urn freezes her innocence in the picture. Therefore since the maiden and the man never actually have a sexual contact relationship, their love is pure, innocent, and eternal complying with the theme of eternal innocence and beauty. He perceives art as

"The Lost Shepherd." This Essay examines the prevalent theme of Holden Caulfield as a protector of innocence in "The Catcher and the Rye."

1924 words - 8 pages being a lawyer defending adults.Holden's affinity for innocence and his desire to preserve it are also evident in his relationship with Jane Gallagher. To Holden Jane Gallagher represents romantic, non-sexual love, in other words, innocent love (Baumbach 68). The fact that Jane represents non-sexual love to Holden is underscored when he says that he kissed Jane everywhere on her face except on her lips (Salinger 79). This perception of Jane is

Where Is Your Innocence?

743 words - 3 pages the book: the preservation of innocence. When Holden goes to meet his little sister, Phoebe, at her school, he notices crude graffiti, not once, but three times. The first two times are at Phoebe’s school, and Holden is furious: “I thought how Phoebe and all the other kids would see it, and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them—all cockeyed, naturally—what it meant and how they’d all think

Innocent and Corrupt Characters in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye

834 words - 3 pages promotes Jane as an innocent character is the way Holden claims to know that she did not let Stradlater get sexual with her, while on their date. By assuming this, Holden shows that Jane is sexually innocent, and will always be seen by Holden as a permanent virgin. Another character that portrays innocence is a young boy Holden hears walking on the curb of the street singing, “If a body catch a body coming through the rye,” (115). This boy displays

"Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger: An Examinatory Essay on Holden's Loss of Innocence throughout the novel

846 words - 3 pages house, naked. With Jane around, and all" (Pg 32). This shows Holden's distaste of anything with an indication of taking away a child's innocence, the hint that there may be sexual abuse infuriates him because he does not want Jane to grow up. Jane is one of the people in Holden's life that he can be comfortable with which allows him to be in a state of childlike bliss, this calms him and the fact that someone would deflower an innocent girl

Similar Essays

Innocence As A Major Theme Of Gothic Literature Year 13 Significance Of Innocence In The Gothic

1325 words - 6 pages Jonathan Harker, Lucy and Mina. In an introduction to ‘Dracula’, Maurice Hindle qualifies Dracula’s blood sucking violence as “obsessive sadistic substitutes for sexual gratification”. This quotation clearly justifies the ways in which Dracula manipulates and drains Jonathan Harker’s and Lucy’s innocence through a disturbing psychological transformation. Harker is imprisoned by Dracula’s Castle and by his sexual power. Before meeting Dracula, Harker

Intoxication With Innocence In The Catcher In The Rye, By J.D. Salinger

1289 words - 6 pages search for a mother whose love will protect him against the corrupt world as well as to initiate him into it.” While in a father figure Holden seeks guidance, in a mother he seeks love. When he is unable to find a mother figure he loses his sense of innocence (468) and seeks sexual encounters as his remediation. Baumbach states that although the “women he meets are by and large less disappointing than men, they too fail Holden and intensify his

The Concept Of Childhood Innocence Essay

2210 words - 9 pages ’ eyes. The old man Humber constructs Lolita and her behaviour as sexual even when it is not. Nevertheless, the readers can receive the message differently depending on their own experiences. Someone can see it as a paedophilic act, others as a teenager being experienced and seductive. The novel ‘points to the unstable boundaries between sexual innocence and sexual experience.’ (Kehily and Montgomery, 2003, p. 245) The sexual knowledge and

The Poetry Of William Blake Essay

2331 words - 9 pages Songs of Experience. The Tiger is seen to be a mixture of the striking and the perilous and a stark contrast to the vision of the lamb in Innocence. The Tiger exudes a raw sexual energy. This poem also starts with the speaker asking the animal its origins. This is where the similarities to "The Lamb" end, though. "What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" The poem goes on to ask a different question in each stanza