Writing and Reading about Literature
Historical Strategy Reflected on “The Chimney Sweeper”
The narrative “The Chimney Sweeper” written by William Blake reflects history and the hardships that often occurred due to child abuse. This narrative has historical context, which makes the narrative interesting because it’s about a real life conflict. Blake wrote about what he saw when he looked outside his window, and the emotion it brought to him. As you read “The Chimney Sweeper” it is easy to visualize the way that these young orphans lived. Lines eleven through twenty in the narrative are symbolic and interesting. “And by came an angel who had a bright key”. This line shows the hope that the children had in survival. This line also seems to alter the mood of the narrative because the child in the story is trying to think in a positive way about his day-to-day duties. “The Chimney Sweeper” as past history explains what children used to have to do for work, and the terrible conditions they were expected to live in, and reflects historical context from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s. Children around the age of seven, but could be as young as the age of five, were expected to sweep chimneys. Those children were put into horrible conditions mainly due to the fact that they were orphans. Those who were forced to do these jobs were paid as little as twenty shillings, and if the child was not an orphan the money went directly to his family. The child normally was a sweep for around seven years due to the fact that he or she became too big to fit up inside the chimney. The children had to shave their heads and use soot from the chimneys as pillows as they slept at night, which led to many serious diseases. Chimney sweeping damaged children for life due to twisted knee caps and spines and many children were ill from breathing in harsh dust or developed cancer of the scrotum. This was a specific type of cancer mainly developed by the sweeps due to...
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