Blake lived through an age of revolution. He was 19 years old when the American colonies declared their independence from the British Empire. When he was 36 the French executed their monarch. He observed the cycle and consequences of revolution at home and abroad. Blake's character Orc was developed in response to his observation of actual revolution.
Blake's first mention of Orc by name is in the Preludium to America published in 1793. Orc is portrayed as having reached maturity, burst his bonds a restraint and exploded into Revolution
|Yale Center for British Art|
Copy A, Plate 18
Yale Center for British Art America Plate 12, Copy A
"Revolution attracts sympathy more because it is revolution than because of what it proposes to substitute... But as Orc stiffens into Urizen, it becomes manifest that the world is so constituted that no cause can triumph in it and still preserve its imaginative integrity. The imagination is mental, and never has a preponderance of physical force on its side."
Frye continues with this quote from Blake:
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 564)
"The Whole Creation Groans to be deliverd there will always be as many Hypocrites born as Honest Men & they will always have superior Power in Mortal Things You cannot have Liberty in this World without what you call Moral Virtue & you cannot have Moral Virtue without the Slavery of that half of the Human Race who hate what you call Moral Virtue"
Paul had stated in the New Testament that we wait in hope for the ultimate transformation which will not come about by use of physical force.
 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Yale Center for British Art America Plate 3, Copy A
Four Zoas, Night V, Page 60, (E 340)
"Tharmas laid the Foundations & Los finishd it in howling woe
But when fourteen summers & winters had revolved over
Their solemn habitation Los beheld the ruddy boy
Embracing his bright mother & beheld malignant fires
In his young eyes discerning plain that Orc plotted his death
Grief rose upon his ruddy brows. a tightening girdle grew
Around his bosom like a bloody cord. in secret sobs
He burst it, but next morn another girdle succeeds
Around his bosom. Every day he viewd the fiery youth
With silent fear & his immortal cheeks grew deadly pale
Till many a morn & many a night passd over in dire woe
Forming a girdle in the day & bursting it at night
The girdle was formd by day by night was burst in twain
Falling down on the rock an iron chain link by link lockd
Enitharmon beheld the bloody chain of nights & days
Depending from the bosom of Los & how with griding pain
He went each morning to his labours. with the spectre dark
Calld it the chain of jealousy. Now Los began to speak
His woes aloud to Enitharmon. since he could not hide
His uncouth plague. He siezd the boy in his immortal hands
While Enitharmon followd him weeping in dismal woe Up to the iron mountains top & there the Jealous chain Fell from his bosom on the mountain. The Spectre dark Held the fierce boy Los naild him down binding around his limbs The accursed chain O how bright Enitharmon howld & cried Over her son. Obdurate Los bound down her loved joy"
Milton, Plate 18 , (E 111) "Orc answerd. Take not the Human Form O loveliest. Take not Terror upon thee! Behold how I am & tremble lest thou also Consume in my Consummation; but thou maist take a Form Female & lovely, that cannot consume in Mans consummation Wherefore dost thou Create & Weave this Satan for a Covering[?] When thou attemptest to put on the Human Form, my wrath Burns to the top of heaven against thee in Jealousy & Fear. Then I rend thee asunder, then I howl over thy clay & ashes When wilt thou put on the Female Form as in times of old With a Garment of Pity & Compassion like the Garment of God His garments are long sufferings for the Children of Men Jerusalem is his Garment & not thy Covering Cherub O lovely Shadow of my delight who wanderest seeking for the prey." So spoke Orc when Oothoon & Leutha hoverd over his Couch"
Milton, Plate 29 , (E 127) "But Rintrah & Palamabron govern over Day & Night In Allamanda & Entuthon Benython where Souls wail: Where Orc incessant howls burning in fires of Eternal Youth, Within the vegetated mortal Nerves; for every Man born is joined Within into One mighty Polypus, and this Polypus is Orc. But in the Optic vegetative Nerves Sleep was transformed To Death in old time by Satan the father of Sin & Death And Satan is the Spectre of Orc & Orc is the generate Luvah"
Milton, Plate 40 , (E 141) "I heard Ololon say to Milton I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon. there a dread And awful Man I see, oercoverd with the mantle of years. I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas; The Four Zoa's of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies" Northrop Frye, Fearful Symmetry on Page 218:"Orc is completely bound to the cyclic wheel of life. He cannot represent an entry into the new world, but only the power of renewing an exhausted form of the old one."
Christopher Z Hobson
The Chained Boy: Orc and Blake's Idea of Revolution