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Analyse and compare both versions of William Blake's the chimney sweeper, How does Blake evoke our sympathy in these poems

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Analyse and compare both versions of William Blake's the chimney sweeper, How does Blake evoke our sympathy in these poems The first version of the Chimney sweeper In the next to last line of the first stanza, the cry "'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!" is the child's attempt at saying "Sweep! Sweep!" which was the chimneysweeper's street cry. This poem shows that the children have a very positive outlook on life. They make the best of their lives and do not fear death. At the end of the first stanza the poet says "your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep" this is getting the reader involved in the poem and making the reader feel sorry for him. Although our chimney sweep has a sad tale to tell he himself comforts another boy, Tom Dacre, by talking to him until he falls asleep. The poem then reflects the demons that enter little Tom's head as he sleeps. He dreams of many other chimney sweeps that have suffered the same fate as him. ...read more.


The message or theme of this poem is perhaps very simple; appearance doesn't always show the truth. The parents sold their child because of his actions and behaviour to the condition of his life; looking more deeply would have shown that he is unhappy with matters and perhaps caught in a spell of discouragement. His feelings were innocent and calm yet somehow the parents were secure in believing that he could handle whatever experience they had thrown upon him. Maybe the parents chose not to look more deeply and went on believing that things were fine; maybe it is true and they truly were not alerted. Either way, it is unfair to the young boy to lead such a life of hard work and unhappiness, even though such a life was more common in the time of the poem than it is in our society today. All the blame cannot be attributed to the parents. Their son could have spoken up and told them of his feelings. ...read more.


In both versions the reader is made aware of how young the child is with the words "weep, weep, weep" underlining the fact that he is too young to say the word "sweep". Also the stark contrast of the black sweeps and the cleanliness of snow and bright white hair is used in both versions to describe the dirty and horrible job of a chimney sweep. There is a strong religious theme running through both poems in version 1 Tom dreams of being locked in a coffin but being released by an angel with a bright key and how if he had God for a father he would never want joy. Where as in version 2 the boy sweeper says how his parents go to praise god and his priest and king. "Who made up a heaven of our misery". Perhaps the biggest impact on me personally was that both poems were based around the theme of "child neglect". However I did enjoy both poems and look forward to getting to know William Blake better. Gareth Davies 01/05/07 ...read more.

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