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A Symbolic Analysis of William Blake's "London".

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A Symbolic Analysis of William Blake's "London" .........In his reflection "London," William Blake laments the poverty faced by the lower class of modern, industrialized London, and he can find no note of consolation or hope for their future. The poet uses this theme to dramatically depict the conditions in which the oppressed lower class is forced to live; he develops the theme through the use of sounds, symbolism, and an ironic twist of words in the last line that expresses Blake's ultimate belief in the hopelessness of the situation. The poem is dominated by a rigid iambic meter that mirrors the rigidity and immutability of the lives of the poor and the oppressive class system. .........The first stanza begins with the poet describing himself walking through the "charter'd" streets of the city near the "charter'd" Thames-every aspect of the city has been sanctioned and organized by the ruling class-seeing expressions of weakness and woe on the faces of all the people he meets. The streets and the river make up a network that has been laid out and chartered by the wealthy class to control the poor. ...read more.


The institution has become hypocritical because, while it still preaches pity, it fails to offer any remedy to the oppression of the poor. The soldier, who should be a symbol of the strength and glory of England, is nothing more than another poverty-stricken human, and so the depiction of his sigh running in blood down palace walls symbolizes that the beauty and glory of England-the palace-is marred and made grotesque by the oppression of the soldier class. .........The fourth and final stanza returns to a slightly more concrete depiction of what "most thro' midnight streets [he] hear[s]": the "youthful Harlot's curse" not only "blasts the new born infant's tear," but also "blights with plagues the Marriage hearse." The unusual, poignant juxtaposition of "marriage" with "hearse" brings the mood of hopelessness to a peak; as a result of sexually transmitted diseases, marriage and sex are now connected with death, not life. ........."London" is written in a heavily iambic meter that remains rigid throughout, emphasizing the drudgery and immutability of the lives of the people Blake observes as he walks through the streets. ...read more.


.........Blake wrote "London" two hundred years ago, to protest the oppressive class system of the city he lived in, and yet his message is very easy to understand today. The fact is that there are many places in the world today where the poor are treated in much the same way as the people of London two hundred years ago. It is not a small-scale phenomenon-hundreds of millions of poverty-stricken people continue to struggle through the trials of daily survival, and their suffering weighs heavily on our consciences. The high standard of living we enjoy in the United States is a result of the fact that we, along with other powerful industrialized and developed nations, control most of the wealth and markets of the world. The United States alone controls 25% of the world's wealth with only 6% of its population. Every extra dollar we spend on ourselves to further raise our standard of living helps perpetuate the world's current economic system that, like the class system of England two hundred years ago, offers little hope of a better life to the great majority of suffering poor. ...read more.

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