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How does William Blake portray children and childhood in his poetry? Discuss with references to Holy Thursday (Songs of Innocence), Holy

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How does William Blake portray children and childhood in his poetry? Discuss with references to Holy Thursday (Songs of Innocence), Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience) and The Echoing Green (Songs of Innocence) This will be done by discussing the poems stated above, explaining and exploring the different uses Blake used in his poems e.g. language, to get his portrayal of children/childhood across to the reader. William Blake was born in 1757 in Soho, London. As a child he was home tutored by his mother and didn't seem to play with other children very much. He read a lot of the bible when he was young; it was his whole life, as his family were very religious. Though Blake did question authority of the church and the state. This is relevant to understanding his portrayal of children and childhood in his poems, because things that he went through when he was a child could have stuck with him and made him feel very strongly about it when he grew older, and based his poems on his thoughts and beliefs. As Blake was religious he would have grown up believing that there shouldn't be poverty and children should be treated well. In the 18th century children had to work. They weren't Free and happy like children in this day and age, they had hard working lives, and didn't get much freedom. I don't think Blake was happy about this, he didn't think it was right. Childhood should be a happy time. In the eighteenth century, volunteer efforts of the church and other organizations, the two most prominent being The National Society and The British and Foreign Schools Society, created free schooling for working-class children. Charity schools were established and provided day classes for poor children. They offered moral lessons as well as basic reading and writing. Sunday Schools were the church's offering. They gained popularity in 1780 when Robert Raikes publicized them in a Gloucester newspaper. ...read more.


Blake is trying to say that organised religion is not good! The children aren't like children they are like soldiers, but it's not their choice to be this way. On the other hand Blake could be describing the Children as 'innocent' to make them seem like angels, bringing the idea of religion back in. This also relates to the last line of the poem 'Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door' which is a quote from the bible. Blake used this quote as it relates to the wardens attitudes towards the children and charity schools. What Blake is trying to say is, if the wardens are so religious ten why are they so cruel to the children, as they could be hidden angels. The illuminated version of the poem backs up my Point of Blake portraying the children as too organised and having no real happy childhood. The picture shows the children walking two and two behind the wardens. But again backing up another pint, the children don't look like children, it's like Blake has imitated them as soldiers, which is the effect of the organised religion. The children may look smarty dressed and cheerful, but all the organised religion does not have a positive effect on the children. The main mood in Holy Thursday (SOE) is very negative 'usurous' and dull 'bleak' The poem has quite the opposite mood of songs of innocence because in this poem the children are cold and starving in London. Blake metaphorically describes it as 'a land of poverty' though London is a rich 'fruitful city. So Blake is saying 'poverty' as in the emotion. The poor people are sad as if they experienced poverty, Blake seems to be describing their emotions but symbolising it as something else. For example 'and their sun does never shine' Blake doesn't mean this literally, he is saying that they are never happy, so in their world the sun does never shine. ...read more.


'round the laps of their mothers' the children are happy and loved to be with their family. The illuminated version of the poem backs up My point about the poem linking with nature. Nature is natural and in the picture all the young children are naked. In most cases this is considered natural. The children don't need lots of money or an organised religion to make them happy. From the picture I can also see that under the big alive tree, there are mothers with children around their laps. All these things are happy and positive. The way Blake thinks childhood should be. After looking at the three poems and exploring them in depth can see that William Blake is trying to communicate to the reader that his beliefs are right. Organised religions and rich cities don't bring happiness, they always have a negative affect in some way. However in the echoing green things are done naturally there is no religion mentioned, and nothing about money. The children have lots of friends and family to make them happy. Blake looks back on these happy childhood memories and all is happy. Blake portrays children differently in each poem. Holy Thursday (SOI) - Too organised with no freedom. Holy Thursday (SOE) - Stricken poverty and unloved The Echoing Green - natural and happy. Throughout all three poems Blake has used some interesting language to give an effect that he wants the reader to feel or picture. If you changed a word slightly it would probably give a totally different meaning to the line. The way Blake emphasised a word is good as it draws all the readers attention to it so that we study it and know to work from the word. Overall how Blake has put his beliefs in these poems lets readers empathise with his beliefs. Organised religion and strict wardens don't help children. It just wastes away their childhood. The wardens aren't really holy people, they do it to look good. If everyone was like it the world would be a bad place. ...read more.

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