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How do Blake and Wordsworth use language to present their view of London?

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Introduction

English Coursework Compare 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge' by William Wordsworth to 'London' by William Blake. At the turn of the nineteenth century William Wordsworth and William Blake compose contrasting poems about London. The metropolis had industrialized freely through generations, providing scope for erudite depictions. Blake's poem, 'London' was recorded at night and illustrates a corrupt and cynical view, where as 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge' by Wordsworth, implies a hallucinatory effect of a 'bright and glistening' city in the early morning; establishing an ecstatic attitude towards London. An outsider to London, Wordsworth was born to a middle class family in Cumberland and educated at a local grammar school. He was travelling by carriage across Westminster Bridge when writing his sonnet. Westminster was growing in importance for the established rich, it had great political significance. Being the home to Westminster Abby and St James' Palace the view would have been 'a sight so touching in its majesty,' this implies a picturesque setting making the reader feel secure. However, Blake's perspective was first hand. He lived and toiled with the working class people in London. His father was a hosier, so Blake's life was influenced by the Industrial Revolution - this is reflected in the attitude he has towards his poem. ...read more.

Middle

The French Revolution was taking place in the poets' lives; both became rebellious as young men; Wordsworth changed to being very conservative as he lived in the society being fought - the aristocracy. Blake did not change because of the poverty that surrounded him. In the last stanza Blake talks about the 'youthful Harlot's curse...blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.' In Blake's times harlots were rife along with sexually transmitted diseases, like syphilis, which were easily passed from one to another. Wives therefore became infected and so did children, they were condemned to death, although some may have seen it as a way to escape from the trap they found them selves in. Also, 'manacles' could be symbolic. In another of his works 'A Poison Tree,' Blake writes 'my wrath did grow,' showing the dark side of human nature, and how it can be dispelled by goodwill; similar to the restrictions of 'mind-forged manacles' chains are constricting and so is the mind, nevertheless chains can be broken. The reader recognises the inevitability of the monotonous strife to survive and is led to feel sympathetic towards the people of London, but also understands Blake's anger. ...read more.

Conclusion

This may also relate to 'all that mighty heart is lying still,' this metaphoric term conveys Wordsworth's love through exaggeration and signifies that people are dependant for protracted life; Wordsworth could be referring to the quiescent factories. Wordsworth uses enjambment to seal this effect. Where as in 'London' the iambic pentameter structure constructs a sharp and abrupt staccato to the lines configuring a rigid poem, denoting Blake's judgment of a constrained London fa�ade. The effect that Blake sought to have on the reader was to introduce the feeling that London was a desperate and isolated place to live. Both poems evaluate very different views of the same city. Through out his sonnet, 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge,' Wordsworth expresses his elated and ecstatic love of London by using an array of techniques particularly personification, enjambment and metaphors. Blake on the other hand displays ridged techniques in his poem 'London:' he uses difficult metaphors, iambic pentameter and critical analysis of the upper classes and church to create a forceful and deterred representative of London. In displaying their individual perspectives the poets create contrasting works, Wordsworth displays an idyllic city where as Blake describes a place of disaster. ...read more.

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