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An analysis of William Blake's The Chimney Sweeper.

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Introduction

William Blake - The Chimney Sweeper William Blake was a religious artist and poet who lived in the later 18th and early 19th century. His most popular pieces came from two collections, Songs of Innocence written in 1789 and Songs of Experience written in 1794. William Blake's art and poetry is critical of many aspects of organised religion and during his life he was an outsider among the people of his time. The two poems I am going to be comparing are The Chimney Sweeper poems from both the Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. This is to see how a man's opinion can change with time, as the title is only on of the few things left in common between the two poems. The Chimney Sweeper from Songs of Innocence is divided into six stanzas, all with the matching rhyme pattern aabb. This is called rhyming couplets. The first stanza catches our attention instantly with the mention of the death of the chimney sweeper's mother. The stanza sticks to tone of the first line, by continuing to say how young the child was when his father sold him when he was so young that he couldn't even cry the traditional street cry of the chimney sweepers (sweep, sweep, sweep). ...read more.

Middle

The description of 'naked and white' is quite a contrast to the darkness and black in the first three stanzas, therefore it is probably a reference to the children's souls instead of their black bodies, again this is a theme seen in other poems in Songs Of Innocence. At the end of the stanza the angel tells Tom that if he is good then he would have god of his father. This can be considered in two different ways. The first possibility is that Blake is stating no matter how bad life gets, no matter how bad the church is, in the after life you will be with god, and the children are celebrating this. The other possibility is that this belief is a con from the church and the society of that time to make the children accept their lives as slaves. The sixth stanza now describes Tom waking up and him and the other children going back to work. The theory that the children have been conditioned is backed up with the comparison of what the morning was like, cold, while Tom is happy and warm. ...read more.

Conclusion

The third stanza describes how the child's parents still refuse to believe that they have done wrong, just because the child hides his misery by being happy and dancing and singing. The parents are so naive that they don't even think their child is being done any harm, condemning him to an early grave. The child then attacks the church for treating him like they have. Showing how even God, Priest and King are forcing him to conceal his own unhappiness. The final line even goes to the point of saying that Religion makes a heaven out of people misery, a really negative view about the church. While both poems refer to a young child who has been sold to be a chimney sweeper, any other comparison stops there. The Poem from Songs of Experience is far darker than its counterpart. While the Songs of Innocence show how the innocence of a child has been abused to make him accept his short and unhappy life, the second poem shows the hatred of a child forced into poverty. Date: 02/05/07 GCSE English Paul Lowther William Blake Page 1 of 2 Word Count 1192 ...read more.

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