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What is blake saying about the two contrary states of the human soul in the two versions of the Chimney Sweep-'Songs of experience' & 'Songs of innocence'.

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Introduction

WHAT IS BLAKE SAYING ABOUT THE TWO CONTRARY STATES OF THE HUMAN SOUL IN THE TWO VERSIONS OF THE CHIMNEY SWEEP-'SONGS OF EXPERIENCE' & 'SONGS OF INNOCENCE In this essay I will attempt to analyse, compare and contrast the poems 'The Chimney Sweep' from both 'Songs of Experience' and 'Songs of Innocence' which were both written by 'William Blake' in 1790-92 and 1789 respectively. These two poems were amalgamated in 1794 to create a new collection called 'Songs of Innocence and Experience'. I will be looking at what Blake says and hints at concerning the 'two contrary states of the human soul' in the two poems as well as looking at the message Blake is trying to convey to the reader. As the poems are written regarding the same subject, that is a chimney sweep, I will be looking at how they differ in their representations of chimney sweeps as well as looking at whether Blake's attitude towards them and how they are treated varies or remains constant. I will also look at the many issues the poems raise and I will go beyond the obvious one of child labour and the implications this had on society at the time. Moving away from the issues that are raised by the two poems I will also look at the literacy techniques Blake uses in both poems and how they vary from poem to poem. ...read more.

Middle

'So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.' The main theme of the poem is one to highlight the plight of young children who have been forced or sold into being a chimney sweep. It also brings to prominence the total lack of human rights that children and the working class had, and how he feels the disgusting way they are treated and are seen as an expendable commodity. Children of the working classes were almost seen as a different race to children of the middle and upper classes, where the idea of these children being used as child labour would be totally abhorrent. Blake seems to emphasise the unquestioning innocence of these child chimney sweeps when he juxtaposes it with the cruelty and injustice of their situation. Children who should have been protected and nurtured by adults, were instead exploited and brutally treated. 'And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry "weep! Weep! Weep! Weep!" So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.' However, in 'Songs of Experience' this innocence has been lost. A contrast is made between the unknowing innocent acceptance of the small boy from Songs of Innocence and the more worldly wise views in Songs of Experience where the chimney sweep is aware that he has been treated wrongfully. ...read more.

Conclusion

in the world and trusts in God, and Experience where the child realises the harshness and futility of life; he has been let down by adults who should have protected him, his innocence has been lost because of the thoughtless and uncaring behaviour of adults. The significance of his writing could lie in whether one believes children are born innocent, trusting and pure and so should be nurtured and protected to prevent exposure to the harsh realities of life which might have a detrimental affect on them at an early age. Or if the belief is held that the child is a miniature adult and so should be treated as such with out any special considerations. Heaven was seen as a reward for suffering hell on earth and this belief was perhaps used and encouraged to exploit the na�ve working classes, who out of fear of retribution would not question this idea as religion was a means of controlling the masses. Blake uses a range of techniques, such as imagery, to convey and express these states, I found his description of the boy in Experience as 'A little black thing among the snow', particularly poignant reflecting the futility and cheapness of the lives of working class children. Blake wanted to highlight the plight of child labour and encourage people to recognise the inequalities of social class, imagery such as this undoubtedly achieves this. 1 ...read more.

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