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How does Blake convey his ideas on the treatment of children on his songs?

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Introduction

How does Blake convey his ideas on the treatment of children on his songs? Despite not having children himself, Blake had very clear ideas on how children should be brought up and was aggressively critical of the way that they were being treated. He lived through an era where children were famously meant to be 'seen and not heard' but through his songs, he gives the children a voice whilst using his own to convey his ideas on the treatment on them emphasising the importance of nature, retaining youth and innocence, freedom from oppression and love and support from parents. The idea that children need the support and freedom of nature is a common idea featured in many of Blake's songs. 'The Echoing Green' is just one example where Blake creates a pastoral idyll through the use of 'sun' singing birds and 'merry bells' as a backdrop to a happy childhood. Through this poem Blake creates a world where children are governed only by nature and that children and nature co-exist in perfect harmony through the way the sun is the only thing that controls their day as the children's games begin at the sunrise and come to a natural end with the setting of the sun. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore child's play is in their nature and is essential for their happiness no matter what the adult world thinks is more important for children as they are not right. This freedom from oppression is an idea reflected in several poems. During Blake's time, children were oppressed in many different ways. There was the oppression on education, as written about in 'The Schoolboy' oppression from the church as written in 'Holy Thursday' and oppression from the adult world as written in 'Infant Sorrow.' Blake wrote 'The Schoolboy during an age where education up to a certain age, had just started to become compulsory for children. Blake responded with this poem which clearly conveys the message that school is more of a hindrance than a help in the developing of a child's mind. The child narrator in this poem says school 'drives all joy away.' This child is likened to a flower, something natural, and Blake tires to get the message across to say that school goes against the natural upbringing of a child. 'Buds are nipped and blossoms blown away' reflects this idea and also emphasises that school prevents a child from flourishing into his full potential as he is effectively as a 'bud' is symbolic of youth and potential. ...read more.

Conclusion

The simplistic structure and layout of this poem reflects the innocence of youth and through the use of music and poetry and love, this innocence can be retained and the child can have a life of 'sweet joy' as the mother wishes. However in 'Infant Sorrow,' the baby is denied this love and relationship with parents. At the birth .[the] mother groaned, [the] father wept' which shows the lack of support and love from the parents right from the beginning of its life. Unlike 'Infant Joy' Blake does not give this baby a voice to show that this baby is born into a world where its opinion does not count and it just another baby as it is denied a name as well. The restraints that the parents put o this child are symbolically shown through the 'swaddling bands' which the baby tries to fight against but to no avail. This baby has learnt its place in society right from the start and has resigned itself to it. The fact that it then chooses to 'sulk upon my mother's breast' shows not only the uncomfortable relationship between mother and child but that this child now faces a lifetime of misery as a cause of this. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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