Blake's The Chimney Sweeper: Two Perspectives

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  • Topic: Poetry, Chimney sweep, Literature
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  • Published : May 15, 2013
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Jessica Bologna
AP English Lit. P. 4

In the two poems The Chimney Sweeper William Blake addresses the political issue presented at the time: the morality of the children sweepers. Blake attempts to describe the working conditions through two perspectives, one being through the eyes of an experienced chimney sweeper and the other through the eyes of the innocent.

In the eyes of the experienced, the conditions described are explicit whereas the one through the eyes of the innocent are implicit. The innocence is represented by Tom Dacre. His thoughts, which are seemingly longer than that of the other poem, are unaware of the oppression that is taking place. The diction can reveal this in the sense that the innocent has proven to be darker and more cynical whereas the second poem seems happier and optimistic. For example from the first poem is, "Hush, Tom! Never mind it, for when your head's bare, you know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair." (Line 7) However Tom’s dream of freedom characterizes the theme that purity still exists but also shows us the ugly reality.

The second poem, the eyes of the experienced, understands that he is a victim. Blake in fact satirizes the second poem accordingly in the line “And because I am happy, and dance and sing,” (Line 9) for the sole purpose that the reader understands how miserable the victim actually is. The second poem also carries repetition which proves to be meaningful because it affirms that deeper level of the tone. The lack of repetition in the first poem sends a message to the reader that the narrator, Tom, truly believes the cruelty will end.

While both poems have significant oppositions, both must be read in order to understand the other. Both emphasize religion and government and how they impose cruel treatment while enhancing lives of others. The two poems also have a rhyme scheme, implying that they are both happy, which is not the case.

Both poems demonstrate the actions of cruelty and...
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